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Merle Thornber in New South Wales, Australia, has traced her ancestors to Blackburn in Lancashire and provided me with the details going back through Thomas Thornber to William Thornber who married Mary Briscoe. This latter family was known to me from studies on Waddington which was at that time in West Yorkshire. Since 1974 Waddington has been in Lancashire.

There were several children said to be of RICHARD Thornber of Bradford, the village near Waddington, baptised at Waddington in the early 18th century. They appear in two distinct groups. There may have been two Richards but another possibility is that there was only one Richard who remarried when his first wife died.  Additional discussion of Richard Thornber's origins is included in the pages on families in Waddington and Bolton by Bowland.

We follow mainly the line from Richard's son William.  Although there is no proof,  William is a good candidate in terms of age and location of birth for the William who married Mary Briscoe. (Two other less likely candidates for William are the son of  William & Ellen Thornber (Clitheroe, bapt. 1733) and the son of John & Alice Thornber (Downham, bapt. 1725)

Note the large family of George Thornber in Generation 2.  Initially it had to be assumed that there were either two Georges or the one George married twice, moving to Blackburn after the death of his first wife.    There is a record of the death of Martha, wife of George in 1773.  Other members of the family moved to Blackburn as shown below.  The IGI notes that the George who married Hannah Ward was born about 1753 but the source is not quoted and it may be the customary guess based on the assumption that the groom was aged 25 at marriage; it has been submitted to the IGI by a relative.  Further information which might help to settle this point would be the marriage bond and allegation for the second marriage, which is by licence or a burial record giving and age.

However, there is the burial of George Thornborough of Blackburn aged 85 at Blackburn St. Mary on 27 September 1826. A number of records in the Blackburn area mix Thornborough and Thornber spellings, for the same family and sometimes there is one spelling in the church register and another on the civil certificate (after 1837). This George was born in 1741 so that is a good fit for the George son of Richard baptised in Feb of 1742. This links the George son of Richard with the George who moves to Blackburn.

is needed to find the burials of George and Hannah. Details of the complexities of Blackburn Records are shown in Footnote 4.

I have also been in contact with Brenda Curtis who has traced her ancestry to William Thornber, the eldest son of William Thornber and Mary Briscoe.

Footnote 1

The Anthony Thornber, baptised on 10 June 1745 at Waddington, son of Richard Thornber, could be the Anthony who was an executor of an administration in 1778.  Ellen Thornber, of Blackburn, Anthony Thornber of Blackburn, weaver, and John Dawson of Chatburn were involved.  Ellen Thornber, was the widow and administratrix of Richard Thornber late of Blackburn, weaver. This is probably Richard Thornber who married Ellen Dawson.   Thus Anthony was an administrator of his brother's estate, along with his sister-in-law.

An Anthony Thornber was a witness at the marriage of William Cottam, son of John and Ann of Mitton and Alison Hindle, dau. of John and Alice of Mangnoles Oswaldtwistle, when they married at Church Kirk on 21 January 1779.

Anthony (x) Thornber married Alice (x) Clayton both of the parish of Mitton by banns, 30 July 1768, in Waddington, witn; John Tomlinson and Thos Mercer. Anthony was said to be of Bradford (near Waddington) for the baptism of five children at Waddington: Ann, 15 Jan 1769; Giles, 28 Oct 1770; Richard, 6 Oct 1782; Peggy, 15 May 1785; and John, 20 Aug 1787. Another chid who may belong to this group is William, baptised son of Anthony on 27 Dec 1789. Jenney, said to be 7th daughter of Anthony Thornber and his wife Alice, formerly Clayton, was baptised on 15 January 1797 at Mitton.

There is a marriage record of William Thornborough, bachelor of full age, labourer, son of Anthony Thornborough, labourer with Ann Cunliffe, of full age, widow, daughter of James Cunliffe, weaver, at Blackburn Parish Church on 2 July 1846. Witnesses were James Ashton and John Pilkington (Marriage Certificate).

Footnote 2.

It looks as if Thomas and his younger brother, Joseph, moved to Blackburn. At this period people were leaving the countryside in large numbers as the industrial revolution gathered pace and Blackburn was the nearest large town. The evidence is as follows. Joseph was a very uncommon name among the Thornbers at this period.  Following the baptism in 1773 in Waddington the next reference to a Joseph is the marriage to Elizabeth Berry in 1791 at Blackburn. The evidence for the Thomas mentioned above moving to Blackburn is that a Thomas was buried in 1813 in Blackburn aged 45, fitting with the birth year of 1767/8.  This Thomas had a family in which the first daughter was Mary and the first son William, which would fit the names of their grandparents - William Thornber and Mary Briscoe.

Footnote 3.

Merle Thornber reports that the following children were baptised at the Particular Baptist Chapel in Blackburn in consecutive entries 605 to 610. In each case the parents were said to be John Thornber and his wife Jane, the daughter of Joseph Ainsworth.

Sarah, born Blackburn 22 April 1824.
Ellen, born Manchester, 26 November 1825
Thomas, born Manchester, 2 January 1827
Allice, born Manchester, 25 September 1828
Ann, born Salford, Manchester, 6 December 1832
Mary, born Sabden, 5 July 1834.

When John Thornber moved to Bedford some of his children went with him. The 1851 census of Bedford (page 656) shows Alice aged 22 and the four youngest, Joseph, 14; John W., 10; Rebecca, 9; and Benjamin, 6 at children at home with their parents. Jane was then said to be 48 and John 46.

Footnote 4

The following explanatory notes on the earliest places of worship in Darwen and Blackburn are taken from the Lancashire County Record Office handbook "Finding Folk". Tony Foster has created a database of Blackburn and Darwen records and has kindly abstracted the Thornber entries for me.  The periods covered for the oldest churches and chapels are noted in the following section.

Footnote 5.

I have been contacted by Frank Elliott who is descended from this couple, through their son George Almond who married Betty Hacking. They had a son George who married Betty Lomax and they too had a son, Georg Almond who married Lydia Chadwick. This couple were Frank's great grandparents.


Darwen Lower Chapel (Independent Congregational) There are baptism records from 1751 to 1837 at Preston.  They have been indexed in the IGI and appear under the name Blackburn, Over Darwen, Lower Chapel.  Tony Foster's index of baptisms covers 1751- 1837.

Darwen Pole Street has baptisms from 1750 which are indexed in the IGI.  Tony Foster's index of baptisms covers 1792-1837.

Darwen Wesleyan Methodist Chapel has baptism records from 1794 indexed in the IGI up to 1837.  Tony Foster's index of baptisms covers 1794-1837.

Blackburn Chapel Street Independent has baptism records from 1777 and these are indexed in the IGI up to 1837.  Tony Foster's index of baptisms covers 1777-1837.

Blackburn Clayton St. Wesleyan Methodist Chapel started in 1784 and the registers been indexed in the IGI.  Tony Foster's index of baptisms covers 1784-1837.

The Blackburn, Islington, Particular Baptists' records run from 1772 and have been indexed in the IGI from 1796.  Tony Foster's index of baptisms covers 1792-1837.



St James, Over Darwen, has a baptism register from 1781 but the Bishop' transcripts start in 1723.   The records have not been indexed in the IGI.   The other churches in Darwen started in the 19th century.  Tony Foster's database covers two sections for baptisms: 1723-1770 and 1813-1826.

Darwen Chapel and Tockholes. The records of Darwen (1723-1759) and of Tockholes (1725-58), prepared by Tony Foster, were published by the Lancashire Parish Register Society in Volume 171.

Blackburn Parish Church, St Mary the Virgin, is now the cathedral.  The records go back to 1569.  IGI coverage is MISSING or FAULTY from 1681 to 1834 for baptisms and also from 1706-1785 for marriages.  Merle Thornber has abstracted Thornber baptisms, marriages and burials for the period from 1711 to 1789 from Mormon Microfiche 1656594, from 1790 to 1814 from the Bishop's transcripts on Mormon Microfiche 1656729, and burials from 1813 to 1843 from Mormon Microfiche 1278820.  Merle has also studied Index to the Register of Baptisms, in the Parish Church of Blackburn from AD 1568 to 1782 and the Chapel of St. James, Over Darwen from AD 1723 to 1729 belonging to Rev. J. Rushton, DD, Vicar of Blackburn, 30 September 1861. (Item 9 LDS #1278821)

Tony Foster's database covers baptisms for the period 1722-1758.  In the course of other work I have checked the baptisms from 1813 to 1817 and burials from 1813 to 1823 and added some details for the children of Joseph and Betty Thornber shown in the tree.

Blackburn St. John the Evangelist is the second oldest church in Blackburn with baptism records from 1789.  They have not been indexed in the IGI.

Blackburn St Pauls was built in 1791 but the vicar of Blackburn refused to certify it for consecration.  The trustees placed it under the Countess of Huntingdon's Connection (Nonconformist).  On 20th December 1829 the Church was consecrated by the Vicar of Blackburn.  Baptism records commence in 1792 and have been indexed in the IGI.  Merle Thornber has checked the original records for Thornber baptisms and burials from 1810 to 1823 using Mormon Microfiche 1470928.

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