Midgley of Lancashire



William Waller Midgley first curator of the Chadwick Museum, Bolton.

William is described in the 1881 census as a commercial traveller in tea. However, two years later he was better known as the first curator of Chadwick Museum, Bolton, a position he accepted at a reduced income.


 Photo from the Boltom Museum and Library Collection

William was born at Normanton, Yorkshire from where he relocated to Bolton, Lancashire with his wife Martha Calverley of Elland, Yorkshire where they raised five children:

Mary [b. 1869], Sarah Anne [b. 1870], Martha [b. 1872], Thomas [b. 1875] and Walter [b. 1880]. Interestingly, in 1898, Thomas married his first cousin, Sophia Midgley, daughter of Benjamin Waller Midgley, a publican of the Ship Inn, 13, Bridge Street, Castleford. Today this is still called by that name but appears to be closed. The inn stands beside a part of the Aire and Calder Navigation canal, just downstream from the confluence of the rivers Aire and Calder.


                                                               The Ship Inn, Castleford, Yorkshire                         Photo by David Pickersgill

Subsequently in 1934, William's first surviving son, Thomas, was appointed as the curator of Bolton Museum. Thomas was a cousin to William Midgley [b.1881] of Cawthorne, South Yorkshire.

William's Waller's parents were William Walter Midgley [b.1808] and Sarah Peace, his grandparents being Joseph Midgley a farmer of Normanton [b. 1771] and Susannah Cheesbrough.  All these branches of the Midgley family were descended from William Midgley, farmer of Brayton, Yorkshire and Elizabeth Fielder of Hemingborough [b. 1698]. See Midgley of the Selby District

In 1876 Samuel Chadwick, a local doctor and philanthropist, left a substantial sum to Bolton Corporation in order to construct, furnish and maintain a museum which was to be situated in what is now called Queen’s Park. As the first curator of the museum in 1883, some of William's duties were to arrange displays for the museum and also act as curator of art at Mere Hall. William also helped found the Bolton Botanical Society and after 1885 became a Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society following a gift of meteorological apparatus to the museum. He seems to have also become involved in the study of fabrics or textiles found on Ancient Egyptian artifacts. To further this study, William utilised microscopy and probably related the weave of the fabrics to those of the local cotton textile industry.

 Some photographs taken 1906 by William W. Midgley in Wensleydale [Powerpoint file .pptx]

Contact: Through guestbook on main page


                                          Lancaster Castle about 1953   Source: Somerville, History of the Duchy of Lancaster vol. i.

Albert Riley Bramwell Midgley, born 1863 [1877 birth certificate obtained from Blackburn, Lancashire]. It states his father as John Midgley, a grocer residing at 51 Queen St. Great Harwood, Lancashire, England. John's wife's name was Mary Smith. Albert migrated to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada sometime after 1877. It is not known if he had any siblings. Albert then migrated to Central Falls, Rhode Island, USA about 1908.

Albert had 6 children; Frederick, Mary, Myrtle, Marmaduke, Victor and Eric. Frederick had 3 children.

Albert MIDGLEY (M)....................  C: 3 Apr 1864
Father: John  Midgley  Saint Peter, Liverpool, Lancashire England   Mother:Grace

A search for John + Grace produced;
Jermiah Foulds MIDGLEY (M)............  C: 30 Dec 1827                       Father: John MIDGLEY Keighley, Yorkshire, England
 Mother: Grace

John MIDGLEY (M)......................  C: 24 Jan 1830                       Ba: C010682   Father: John MIDGLEY Keighley, Yorkshire, England              So: 919144     Mother:Grace                                                 Pr: 6901264

 John MIDGLEY (M)......................  C: 13 Apr 1830                       Ba: C007482  Father: William MIDGLEY Heptonstall, Yorkshire, England         So: 990611   Mother:Grace

 John MIDGLEY (M)......................  C: 26 Jul 1840                       Ba: C007482   Father: James MIDGLEY  Heptonstall, Yorkshire, England         So: 990611 Mother:Grace

The 1881 census for Blackburn  indicates that one member of Albert's family remained in England:

Dwelling: 4 Minnie Tce
 Census Place: Blackburn, Lancashire, England
 Source: FHL Film 1342005     PRO Ref RG11    Piece 4199    Folio 43    Page 2
 Marr Age Sex Birthplace
Wm. MIDGELEY M 58  M Leeds, York, England
 Rel: Head
 Occ: File Maker Emp 2 Men & 1 Boy
Nancy MIDGELEY M 61  F Bolton, Lancashire, England
 Rel: Wife
Arthur Preston MIDGELEY U 25  M Blackburn, Lancashire, England
 Rel: Son
 Occ: File Cutter
Elizabeth Hannah MIDGELEY U 21  F Blackburn, Lancashire, England
 Rel: Daur
 Occ: Schoolmistress Assist

Also the 1881 census shows Albert B.R. Midgeley born Gt. Harwood and the mother and father's name:

 Dwelling: Clod
 Census Place: Haslingden, Lancashire, England
 Source: FHL Film 1341990     PRO Ref RG11    Piece 4137    Folio 19    Page 31
 Marr Age Sex Birthplace
John MIDGELEY M 59  M Burnley, Lancashire, England
 Rel: Head
 Occ: Farmer Of 15 Acres
Mary MIDGELEY M 62  F Burnley, Lancashire, England
 Rel: Wife
 Occ: Farmers Wife
Joici MIDGELEY M 40  F Tottleworth, Lancashire, England
 Rel: Dau In Law
 Occ: Cotton Weaver
James MIDGELEY M 35  M Burnley, Lancashire, England
 Rel: Son
 Occ: Carpenter
Henry Har. MIDGELEY U 30  M Burnley, Lancashire, England
 Rel: Son
 Occ: Cotton Weaver (Army Reserve)
Martha Ann MIDGELEY U 20  F Oakenshaw, Lancashire, England
 Rel: Dau
 Occ: Cotton Weaver
Albert B.R. MIDGELEY U 17  M Great Harwood, Lancashire, England
 Rel: Son
 Occ: Cotton Weaver
Lawrence L. MIDGELEY   13  M Tottleworth, Lancashire, England
 Rel: Grandson
 Occ: Scholar
Martha Jane MC GOVERN   5  F Burnley, Lancashire, England
 Rel: Granddau
 Occ: Scholar

If this is Albert then he did not migrate until after 1881

Searching Midgley for Harwood and came up with the same family - Great Harwood lies between Blackburn and Burnley in Lancashire.

It appears that John Midgley was born abt. 1822 at Burnley so back to the IGI to look for any John Midgley's of Burnley:

John MIDGLEY (M)................C: 1 Jun 1628     Father: John MIDGLEY          Burnley, Lancashire, England
This is the only one found and could well be an earlier predecessor by 9-10 generations before John b.1822

Contact: Frederick Midgley III

Burnley Family History Society not Blackburn
Blackburn Family History Society
Societies often have the census' for their district as publications to purchase at reasonable cost. Check the 1851, 1861 and 1871 census for Blackburn.


John Midgley married Alice Butterworth, their son William b~ 1835, d. 13 April 1892 married at Manchester on 31 May 1860, Martha Mary Bracewell [b. 1842]. Martha was the daughter of John Bracewell and Ann.

Harry Midgley, his father was James Midgley, and they were brought up in north Manchester, but beyond that - nothing.
Contact: Ian Midgley


Midgley of 'Blackburnshire'
Midgley of Rochdale
Midgley of Winewall

 © Copyright Tim Midgley 2002 . Links revised July 2023.