So, who were these Bealeys? Where do we start with their family tree? I’m going to try to show you in the next few blogs how I went about finding out a little more about this family so we can understand a little more of their lives and the influences that the events of their period had on them.
So, where do we start? Well, almost all the sources you can find suggest that the family came from the Rostherne area of Cheshire and were originally yeoman farmers. They moved into bleaching very early and were known as whitsters (pronounced whitesters). Now, I’m suspicious of this information. Every source quotes the exact same details suggesting that they are all derived from a single source originally. What if this original source was wrong? We’ll look into this in a future blog. Meantime, lets look at what we do know.
There is a copy of a contract in the Bury Archives between William Marsden and William Bealey and his sons Richard and Joseph dated 26th May 1750 granting a lease of a plot of land to the Bealeys with a rent of £21. This is the first record we seem to have for the Bealeys being in the Radcliffe area. The original of this lease is part of the Bleachers’ Association archive that is held at Quary Bank Mill, Styal, Cheshire by the National Trust and we hope to go and see it and some other Bealey paperwork during September.
We don’t know a lot about William but we are lucky enough to have an image of his son Joseph who played the major part in organising the company in its early days.
I wish we knew where the original painting is but there is no record of what happened to it. There is a vague hope it might turn up in someone’s will but more of that in a later blog.
These early sources also give us some information regarding birth and death dates for William, Richard and Joseph. This allows us to start constructing a family tree, although it should be remembered that none of this data is substantiated so may be wrong. We therefore use the prefix Cir on all dates derived from this information, its short for circa from the Latin meaning “around”.
Well, its not much but its a start. More next time…..