Red rose

Michael was an uncommon name among the Thornber families of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries so when it occurs it tends to stand out. This page started out by collecting together a number of fragments of information gathered over several years. In the 17th and 18th centuries the information is too sparse to draw up more than a few family connections but there seems to be consistent pattern of occurrence in Colne, Burnley and Newchurch in Pendle.

Since I began this work I have been in contact with Ian Roberts in Sheffield who has provided much more information. He has researched the family of Michael Thornber who married Mary Hargreaves as shown in Section 4 below.

1. Early Records at St. Bartholomew's, Colne and St. Peter's, Burnley.

The following children of Anthonie Thornburre were baptised at Colne in the early 17th century.

John, 12 October 1624, Colne
Michael, 28 Feb 1626, Colne
Laurence, 27 Jan,1630, Colne
Alice, 17 Aug 1634, Burnley

There was also the following burial: (in which case Alice was born posthumously.)

Anthoni Thornbur, buried 7 May 1634, St. Bartholomew's, Colne.

Note that Anthony is a name that is associated with the Slaidburn group of Thornbers. The Slaidburn register's first entries are for 1600 with a gap until 1631. However, in view of the Newchurch in Pendle connections listed below it is interesting that an Anthony Thornber married Alice (?) in 1624, at Newchurch in Pendle.

The following entries in the late 17th century have been noted. It is conceivable that the Michael marrying Ann Horobin in 1679 might be the son or nephew of the one baptised in 1626. More work needs to be done on the burial registers for Burnley but it is already known that a Michael died in 1684.

Michael Thornber married Ann Horobin by banns on 8 June 1679, Burnley St. Peter.

John son of Michael Thornber, baptised 1 May 1680, Burnley St. Peter

Michael Thornber buried on 26 February 1684, Burnley St. Peter.

Two later entries for St. Peter's shows that a John Thornber had two children baptised, including one called Michael. In view of the use of this name it is possible John was the son of Michael, baptised in 1680.

Mary daughter of John Thornber, baptised on 24 May 1713, Burnley St. Peter.
Michael son of John Thornber, baptised on 27 March 1715, Burnley St. Peter.

2. Michael Thornber and Elizabeth Dugdale at Newchurch in Pendle and Wheatley Lane.

This group starts with a marriage record at Newchurch in Pendle. The origin of this Michael is not know. If he were the one baptised at Newchurch in 1715 he would have been 48 by the time of the marriage in 1763, but he died in 1784.

Michael Thornber married Elizabeth Dugdale, both of this Chapelry, 6 June 1763, itpo Wm Hartley and Roger Folds at Newchurch in Pendle.

There are also a baptism at Newchurch in Pendle as follows:

Elizabeth d. Michael Thornber, 3 Jul 1764

Burials found so far are:

Elizabeth wife of Michael Thornber 3 Jul 1764 (same day as baptism of child above)
Elizabeth d. Michael Thornber, 8 Apr 1765

It would appear that only one child survived, Michael, mentioned in his father's will in 1784.  He may have been baptised as Michael Dugdale.  The same Michael Thornber, then of Wheatley Lane, a weaver, left a will that was passed on 20 May 1784. The executors were sworn on 27 April 1784

Bequest to Michael Thornber, my reputed son by Betty Dugdale, then a single woman but late my wife, deceased, whom I acknowledge for my rightful child.  The will was made on 14 April 1784 and witnesses were Jonas Moore, John Haworth and Jas. Haworth.

This Michael must have died between 14 April and 27 April 1784 and is therefore distinct from the Michael in the next entry who baptised a child four years later in 1788. While typing up Dr. John Laycock's transcription of the Wheatley Lane Inghamite Registers, I encountered the following burial entry which fits the required event:

22 Apr 1784 Michael Thornber of Wheatley Lane

The will of Joshua Hague of Dudland in Sawley Demesne, yeoman, dated 19 November 1773, granted 24 January 1775 mentions cottages and dwelling houses at Wheatley Lane, forest of Pendle, in which one of the occupiers was a Michael Thornber.

3. Michael and Rebecca Thornber at Colne, Newchurch in Pendle and Wheatley Lane.

This Michael could be the son of Michael and Betty Dugdale mentioned in the will. If he was born before his parents married that would be prior to 1763 making him at least 25 by 1788. 

Baptisms at Colne and Newchurch in Pendle that relate to this family are:

Rebecca, d. Michael and Rebecca Thornber of Pendle Forest on 3 Feb 1788, at St. Bartholomew's Colne
John s. Michael & Rebecca Thornber, 20 Mar 1791 at Newchurch in Pendle
Betty d. Michael & Rebecca Thornber, 30 Aug 1795 at Newchurch in Pendle

Note the following burial reported at Wheatley Lane Inghamites.  It may be Rebecca the wife of Michael Thornber

Rebeka Thornber of Wheatley Lane, buried on 20 Jun 1805.

Rebecca the daughter of Michael Thornber may be the one marrying at Newchurch in Pendle:

Henry Haworth, weaver, married Rebecca Thornber, on 5 March 1810 at Newchurch in Pendle itpo of John Smith and Jas. Bowker.

A further interesting entry was found in the burial register of Wheatley Lane Inghamite Chapel as follows:

Michael Thornber of Wheatley Lane, buried 30 May 1817.

4. Michael Thornber and Mary Hargreaves

I am grateful to Ian Roberts and William de Villiers for their contributions to this section. Ian notes that there there may be two couples called Michael and Mary Thornber because of a problem with ages as described below. In chronological order we have a couple marrying at Colne in 1808.

Michael Thornber of Reedley married Mary Hargreaves on 14 November 1808, at St. Bartholomew's Colne.

This couple lived initially in Little Marsden and their first two children were baptised at Colne in 1809 and 1812. By 1819 the family had moved to Haggate and three children are recorded in the records of the Baptist Chapel. They are recorded in the 1841 census for Burnley (HO 107/506/21 Folio 37 page 15) at Burnley Lane Head, when Michael was 60, Mary 55 and four children were at home as shown below.

Michael Thornber 60 Weaver Born in the County
Mary Thornber 55 Weaver Born in the County
Thomas Thornber 15   Born in the County
Sarah Thornber 9   Born in the County
Samuel Thornber 8   Born in the County, about 1833
William Thornber 5   Born in the County

No relationships are given in the 1841 census and the ages are usually rounded down to the nearest five. The age of Mary Thornber seems high for her to be the mother of the youngest child but it could be a mistake in the census. If Mary had been 55, she would have been born about 1786. She would have been 22 at the time of the marriage in 1808 and 50 by the birth of the last child William. The Thomas mentioned in Haggate Baptist records would have been 19 by the census of 1841 so the age of 15 may be rounded down.

The following burials at Haggate Baptist Chapel fit with the address of Michael and Mary in the 1841 census. Ian Roberts has obtained a copies of the death certificates as shown below.

Michael Thornber of Lain (sic) Head, buried at Haggate Baptist Chapel on 5 March 1842.
Mary Thornber of Lane Head buried at Haggate Baptist Chapel on 16 February 1847.

Death Certificates:

Michael Thornber, aged 61, weaver, died of consumption on 2 March 1842 at Walshaw Lane, Burnley, informant was Hargreaves Thornber of Walshaw Lane, present at the death.

Mary Thornber, aged 50, widow of Michael Thornber, weaver, died of anascara ten week certified, on 11 February 1847, informant was Mary Lee of Burnley Lane Head, present at the death.

If Michael was aged 61, indicating birth about 1781, he was old enough to be the one that married Mary Hargreaves in 1808. The age on the death certificate would mean that he was indeed 60 at the time of the census in 1841.

However, if Mary was only 50 at her death in 1847, she was born about 1797 and was too young to marry in 1808. Ian Roberts considers that there could be two Marys with the most plausible divide between the birth of Mary in 1825 and the birth of Sarah in 1831. This hypothesis leaves us searching for a further marriage record and would still require there to be an substantial error in one or more records. If there was a second Mary and she was 50 at her death in 1847 then she could have been only 44 at the time of the 1841 census. I have identified the burial of a Mary Thornber with no details of age at Haggate Baptists on 23 November 1825. No abode is given and in the absence of an age it could be either Michael Thornber's wife or infant daughter.

For there to be only one Mary her birth date would be say 1791, making her 17 at the marriage in 1808 and 50 at the census with her last child born when she was 45. She would then be 56 at her death in 1847. This requires errors in both the census and on the death certificate but is not completely impossible.

5. Information from Susan Mann (nee Proctor)

I am grateful for the following information from Susan Mann.  Michael and Mary Thornber, shown below in generation 2, had a younger daughter Mary Ellen, born in 1851, who is also found in the census of 1861.  She married Henry Procter, born 1850 and they had five children.  Albert Thornber Procter was Susan Mann's grandfather. Susan found details of the family in the census returns of 1881 and 1901. 

Susan also reports that Michael Thornber in generation 2 below, had as his third child a daughter, Sarah, born in 1845 from the 1851 census.  Hargreaves Thornber in generation 3, who was born in 1851 married Sarah Anne Procter in 1876.  He was the cousin of Mary Ellen Thornber who married Henry Procter and the latter was the brother of Sarah Anne Procter thus making two connections between the Thornber and Procter families.   Henry and Sarah Anne lived with their parents, William & Sarah Procter at Spout House farm in Briercliffe and at New Ground Top where Michael & Mary Thornber lived so they were neighbours.

6. Information from John Clarke

In January 2008 I was contacted by John Clarke doing research on a Thornber family in the Burnley area.  He reports William the son of Michael Thornber and Mary Hirst, reported above in generation 3, married Jane Riley. Their son, Edmondson Thornber married Sarah Helen Maud (nee Driver).  They had three children, Ernest, Percy and Nellie, who married Smith Clarke.  This information has been incorporated into the tree.

7. Information from David Baxter

David referst to the following family in generation 2, which appears at the bottom of the tree below:

The Lancashire BMD shows a reference to the marriage of 1858 at Burnley Register Office of a William Thornber and Ellen Smith.   The certificate has not yet been obtained but it could relate to the family shown above from the dates.

William Thornber worked as a gardener for the Moore Family of Reedley Hallows, which was probably at the bottom of Barden in Burnley. 

Smith Tattersall and Esther Thornber had a daughter Beatrice Tattersall and a son Thornber Tattersall (1901)

 The following family tree has been compiled in part from information collected by Ian Roberts, incorporating all the material discussed above together with a lot of new information.  The family of Wilfred Earnest Ewart Thornber has been added from information provided by William de Villiers.

Footnote 1.

Access to led me to search for this family in the 1861 census. However, the surname is mistranscribed as Thornton and the entry was only found by doing a search for all the Normans born in 1859 in Burnley. The full record reads:

1861 Census at 160 Primrose Bank, Burnley (Source Citation: Class: RG9; Piece: 3069; Folio: 19; Page: 32; GSU roll: 543073.)

Hargreaves Thornber, head of household, married, 40 Stone Mason’s labourer, born Marsden
Sarah Thornber, wife, aged 45, housekeeper, born Briercliffe
Susannah Thornber, daughter, unmarried, 23, power loom weaver, born Briercliffe
Deborah Thornber, daughter, unmarried, 16, power loom weaver, born Briercliffe
Norman Thornber, grandson, age 2, born Burnley

1871 Census at 54 Lord Street, Burnley. Source Citation: Class: RG10; Piece: 4148; Folio: 32; Page: 10; GSU roll: 846732.

Hargreaves Thornber (Mistranscribed as Hornber in and found only by searching for all the Hargreaves names)
Hargreaves was a widower, aged 51, working as a stone labourer and was a boader with the Bradshaw family.

The Grandson, Norman, is probably the one who turns up in the following census records of 1881, 1891 and 1901.

1881 Census at 2 Vine Street, Burnley (Source Citation: Class: RG11; Piece: 4162; Folio: 94; Page: 12; GSU roll: 1341998.)

Norman Thornber, head, married, 22, cotton weaver, born Burnley
Jane Thornber, wife, 22, cotton weaver, born Brierfield
Martha Thornber, daughter, 2, born Burnley

1891 Census at 298 Colne Road, Burnley (Source Citation: Class: RG12; Piece: 3362; Folio 103; Page 34; GSU roll: 6098472.)

Norman Thornber, head, married, 32, coal miner, born Burnley
Sarah J Thornber, wife, 32, born Brierfield
Martha Yoxall, daughter, 12, born Brierfield. See note below
Harry Thornber, son, 9, born Brierfield
William B Thornber, son, 6, born Burnley
Margaret E Hargreaves, mother in law, 31, Cotton weaver, born Brierfield
Mary Hargreaves, sister in law, 8, born Huncoat
Hargreaves Thornber, son, 1, born Burnley

I have been contacted by Susan Stockall who informs me that Martha Yoxall/Thornber was her great grandmother. Family stories have that her parents Norman and Sarah Jane were not married when she was born but they married later. Susan has Sarah Jane's funeral ribbon which says she died on August 13th 1912 in her 55th year and was on August 17th 1912 was interred at Haggate Baptist Chapel, Burnley. Martha died in 1927 aged 48 from a lung disease caused by working with cotton. From this it would appear that Sarah J Thornber's maiden name was Yoxall.

The details about Margaret Hargreaves don't seem to make sense at this stage. Margaret aged 31 could hardly be the mother of Sarah J aged 32. She could be Sarah's stepmother and Mary would then be Sarah's step sister.

1901 Census in the Parish of Burnley St. Andrew at 39 Murray Street (Source Citation:Class: RG13; Piece: 3866; Folio: 145; Page: 35.)

Norman Thornber, head of household, 42, married, coal miner, born Bur
Sarah J Thornber, married, 42, no occupation given, born Brierfield
Harry Thornber, son, single, 19, cotton weaver, born Burney
William B Thornber, son, single, 16, cotton weaver, born Burnley
Hargreaves Thornber, son 11, born Burnley    (this is mistranscribed in the text as “Haryreaver” but I saw it on the image and recognised it as Hargreaves)
Herbert Thornber, son, 4. Born Burnley.

I have been contacted by David Haworth who informs me that Norman Thornber married Sarah Jane Yoxall on 25 December 1880 at St. Luke's Brierfield. Norman was then a 22 year old cotton weaver of 3 Lee Street, Burnley and Sarah Jane the daughter of Peter Yoxall, Platelayer, was a 22 year old cotton weaver of 4 Vine Street Brierfield. Witnesses were Robert Davy Hargreaves and Margaret Ellen Hargreaves.

David Haworth also reports that Hargreaves, the son of Norman Thornber was born in 1889 and married Mary Elizabeth Haworth (born about 1887) at St. Andrew's Burnley in 1912. She was the first child of Edwin Haworth (born 22 Mar 1867; died 7 Nov 1960) and his wife Nancy, nee Hooson (born 1869 died 24 Mar 1904). Hargreaves and Mary Thornber had one daughter, Amy, born in 1920, who married Herbert Sydney Holdsworth in 1940. They had two children and grandchildren all of whom are living today.

David Haworth has traced the family of Norman Thornber in the 1911 census too, when Norman was 52; Sarah Jane, 52; Willie Bradshaw Thornber, 26; Hargreaves, 21 and Herbert reported to be 4. This latter may be an error as a Herbert was 4 in 1901 and even if he had died young, Sarah Jane was a little old for producing another child in 1907. Hargreaves became a coal merchant and lived in Walpole Street. He died aged 59 in 1949.

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