Monday, October 1, 2012

Elizabeth Rushworth 1841-1927

Front Page of Elizabeth's Note Book
"Young Persons. look forward, for what they intend doing. Old Persons, look backward, as to what they have done."  Elizabeth Taylor (nee Rushworth).

This quote features on the opening page of Elizabeth Taylor's notebook.  This small black exercise book filled with Elizabeth's neat script has provided our family researchers with so many links to the details of her family "The Rushworths" and her husbands family "The Taylor's" and is the source of many of the details of this story.

Elizabeth, is my husbands great, great Grandmother and has to be among my favorite ancestors, even if I am only related to her by marriage.  It will be hard to do her story justice in a few blogs, and I hope in time to come I will be  able to expand on her story in more detail.  One of the main reasons for featuring Elizabeth in my blog is that I hope others will read her story and will be able to provide me with some more information on other members of her family and the times she lived in.

St Bartholomew's, Colne
Elizabeth Rushworth was born in Barnoldswick, in 1841, the eighth child of George Rushworth (1801-1884) and Martha Halstead (1805-1845).  The 1841 Census lists George's occupation as a farmer and they lived Whitemoor. Elizabeth was Christened  21 Dec 1842 St Bartholomew Church, Colne, Lancashire, England.  Like many families in this district, the Rushworth family were involved in the textile industry.

Rushworth family 1841 Census
 Barnoldswick and other towns in the district became known as weaving towns.  Many families had looms in their homes, with family members weaving cloth and the smaller children winding bobbins. The 1851 Census shows a number of the Rushworth family working in this industry; Elizabeth's brother James was a hand loom weaver, another brother John is listed as a bobbin boy and Elizabeth and her sister Alice were listed as bobbin winders.  (They were aged 10 and 8 years at the time).

This must have been a difficult time for the Rushworth family, as their mother Martha passed away in 1845, leaving George with eleven children to care for.  The 1851 census shows the family were now living in Greenbank, Barnoldswick.  There must have been the opportunity for Elizabeth to attend school, as her note book and shows she had a reasonable level of literacy.  It is most likely that the children attended the Barnoldswich National School, that was first opened by the Reverend Richard Milner in 1838 and new school build in 1841.

"Although the parish had been running a school since at least 1743 (see section 5.5.1), by the 1830s, the Reverend Richard Milner saw it as necessary to build a National School. This was duly opened in 1838 at the top of what became Church Street, opposite the Engine Inn, and doubled as a chapel of ease known as St James’ (Savage nd, 13). It was decided that St James’ should act solely as a church, and a new National School was built at the bottom of the Butts, next to Butts Beck, in 1841 (Savage nd, 14). This small school comprised single rooms on two storeys with a large porch." *

Map Barnoldswick- 1853
Most families in Barnoldswick lived in simple cottages, a wonderful description of homes in the 1840's can be found in the transcription of "Old Barlick" by W.P. Atkinson **

"Very few cottage houses had a back door and one objection to this was that a back door caused a "draft" and made too much wind in the house. All ordinary cottages had flagged floors and stone stair steps to approach the bedroom, cellars were not general. The back part of the house was used instead of same. No carpets or even hearth-rugs were in use up to this time, and the floors were scattered over with sand, the same being swept off at regular intervals after which a fresh layer of sand was used in like manner, this process was repeated several times each week, and the week-end cleaning-up did not start until after dinner on a Saturday when regular work had finished.

There were few tablecloths and lump sugar seen only at the School tea-party. There were no sun screens inside the windows but only a curtain to draw across the same at night, there was a low blind about a foot high either crocheted or plain. Most of the cottages had a garret and this was approached by a broad staved ladder, all such rooms were open to the slate. Also, where there was no garret the upper storey was open to the slate. There were no under-drawings or ceilings either upstairs or down and the woodwork joists and boards were absolutely bare. Poor Joe Parker lost one of his eyes when a child by peeping through a knot hole in the bedroom floor while another youngster took aim with his bow and arrow from the lower room. The bare joists and boards style of building was not abandoned until twenty years after this time, when lath and plaster in most new buildings were generally adopted. There were four back-to-back three storied cottages the first block on right-hand side going up Barlick Lane. These were known as the ‘blue slate’, (the only blue slated houses in Barlick Town at the time).

Cottage house windows, though not so large as modern windows, would average from two to three dozen panes of glass in each window, and were very rarely constructed with up and down sashes. A single pane of glass on hinges called a casement which
could be opened or shut at will. This contrivance gave a mouthful of fresh air to the folk inside the house if they desired it.

The Cottage fireplace was formed with a large opening at the bottom of the chimney, to allow Jack Sweep plenty of room when climbing up inside the ‘luvver’. On those occasions an old rhyme was chanted by the children outside as a sort of greeting to this black visitor from Skipton, while he was plodding his way up the luvver with a poke over his head and face, the rhyme ran thus ‘Sweep O, penny O, sweep the luvver clean O’, and finished up with ‘Jack, put the brush out at top’ This cruel practice has long become illegal.

What a wonderful description of the homes of this time, it gives a colourful picture of the living conditions that Elizabeth and her family would have experienced.!!

As I research the conditions of these times, Elizabeth's story is even more amazing!!! I am looking forward to writing and sharing with you the next chapter of her life.

Viewed 1 October 2012 

Viewed 1 October 2012


  1. I hope your Elizabeth is right about that observation quoted, for that promises to make me a very young person, indeed!

    Enjoyed the post here, Diane, and am looking forward to reading more.

  2. Glad you are enjoying the story. Elizabeth was an amazing lady and had a lot to look back on when she reflected on her life. More to come