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Chapter 6

Grimshaws 1

“Now let us praise famous men and our fathers that begat us”

Ecclesiasticus XLIV.1.

A fertile family of which there are still very many descendants. Grimshaw is originally a Lancashire name, there being a place called Grimshaw near Blackburn and there are far more Grimshaw entries in Lancashire than Yorkshire Parish Registers.

The first reference to a Grimshaw in these parts is in the will of William Ives of Guiseley (an ancestor of the Yeadon mill family) in 1538 when he left a legacy to a Grimshaw. A direct line can be traced back to Edward Grimshaw2 (died 1635) who married Isabel Collier in 1602. He was a tenant of Francis Rawdon and had the chance of buying his freehold but did not have sufficient capital. A friend, perhaps John Marshall, did however purchase and Edward’s descendants remained tenants of Ivy House, Over Lane,3 until the 1880s though there were successive landlords. A remarkable record indeed.

Edward’s son Abraham I (1603-70) married Sarah Collier, (died 1695), a remarkable woman, whom as we shall see in Chapter 7 applied for a licence for a dissenting meeting house in 1689. As far back as 1672, under Charles II’s short-lived Declaration of Indulgence, she had applied when she gave the denomination as Independent (i.e. predecessors of Congregationalists). The name of the proposed resident minister was given as the Rev. Josiah Collier. He was a nephew of the Rev. Jeremiah Collier (1650-1726) who, though born in Cambridgeshire, came of a family which had been settled in Yeadon for a century or so. Jeremiah was a noted historian and a forceful critic of the degeneracy of the Restoration stage, but was at the other end of the religious spectrum, a zealous high churchman who believed kings were by God appointed and in 1713 ultimately became a Non-Juring bishop.

Abraham had four sons and three daughters. The sons were Abraham II (1657-1704), 4 Jeremiah (born 1653), Josiah (1656-1722)5 and John (1664-1744). I will deal with Abraham, Jeremiah and John first and then return to Josiah. Abraham moved to Calverley Carr. A descendant, Phoebe, married Jeremiah Hird in 1741. Jeremiah married as his first wife Mary Stockton of Guisbrough and from them descended John Atkinson Grimshaw, the Leeds painter whose work is now very much sought after. From the painter’s brother there are now numerous descendants in Australia.

John married as his second wife Phoebe Culshaw. They had moved to Calverley by 1707 but were back in Rawdon by 1731. However, his grandson, Jonathan, was back in Calverley by no later than 1775. Jonathan was the father of William (1781-1850), who with his wife Hannah (née Haley) had no less than seven sons and six daughters. A massive number of children descended from the family including the Grimshaw Brothers of the Calverley Mill, which continued in production until the contraction of the wool trade in the 1960s. A Calverley Grimshaw married into the Thompson family (see p. 68).

To return to Josiah, he married Sarah Ibbotson of Deer Ing in Nidderdale in 1690 and his descendants continued to occupy Ivy House, farming about seven acres between Over Lane and the Pease Hill footpath. They also manufactured cloth by hand spinning and weaving. For about a century the head of the family was a trustee of the Quaker Meeting House.

Josiah died in 1722 and his son Abraham III (1691-1765) took over the business and in the same year married Elizabeth Sandall of Idle. In 1733 he was appointed a trustee of the Meeting House, together with his cousins John and Jeremiah. There was a further appointment of trustees in 1765 when Abraham IV was appointed to join his father and two other Grimshaws, both in the clothing trade.

Abraham III died in 1765 and his son Abraham IV succeeded him, having married Ellen Whalley of Yeadon. He was the second son, his elder brother Aaron having become a schoolmaster in Leeds. By 1766 Abraham IV was describing himself as “Farmer and Dealer in Meal”. He died in 1786, only 55 years of age, and his eldest son Joseph (1765-1841) took over the business at the age of 21. A horse-powered scribbling mill was erected near to Ivy House, showing perhaps the influence of a new broom. Joseph and John Grimshaw (of Calverley) were among the Meeting House trustees appointed in 1787 but in 1791 Joseph married Margaret Wetherall of Bradford and in 1791 was disowned by the Quakers as he had ‘married out’6. Obviously there had been a major split and perhaps because of it, coupled with the current advent of power-driven mills, Joseph decided to go to the U.S.A. in 1808. His wife died on the voyage but he married a widow, Elizabeth Booth, shortly afterwards. He died in Rome, N.Y. in 1841.

His brother, Abraham V (1771-1842) took over and continued to live in Ivy House but seems to have been more involved in farming, indeed his son Abraham VI (1824-1902) described himself as “Cloth Buyer and Farmer”. As Abraham was buried in the Baptist graveyard it is obvious that the link with the Quakers was finally severed. By the end of the 18th century the Calverley Grimshaws were drifting into Wesleyanism and/or Low Church Anglicanism.

Indeed, the painter Atkinson Grimshaw married a Catholic and converted, his son becoming the organist of St Anne’s Cathedral in Leeds.

Dealing with the freehold of Ivy House, this stayed in the Marshall family until 1830 when John Marshall M.P. (see p. 22) sold to the Rev. L.W. Hird, whose wife had already inherited the adjoining Crowtrees House land. On the death of William Wickham Wickham in 1888, his family wishing to dispose of their last Rawdon property sold it to Thomas Illingworth who had been occupying the house since 1884. The scribbling mill was made into a separate house, now Over House, and sold off. Other land was split off and sold to Abraham’s brother Charles (1843-1905) who farmed it for a few years. Between 1910 and the 1940s the house was used as a hand laundry. The land which had been split was developed for housing (Larkfield Drive) in the years after the last War, whilst the land to Over Lane was used for the building, by Aireborough U.D.C., of old persons’ bungalows in the 1960s.


1. For this chapter I am deeply indebted to a thesis by Mrs Irene Lawson who lived in Ivy House for many years. It gives much greater detail of the Grimshaw pedigree, a fuller description of the house and much more on the history, economics and technology of the small-scale production of woollen cloth. Also to Cassandra Pickworth of N.S.W. who descends from a brother of Atkinson Grimshaw and to the late Reg Pearson of Burley-in-Wharfedale, both of whom have done a great deal of research into the Grimshaw family.


2. Though it is not known how it got there, in the archives of Woodhouse Grove School, there is a lease of 1658 between Joseph Field of Shipley, Yeoman and Benjamin Grimshaw of Rawdon, clothier. It is for a term of 21 years at a rent of £4.0.0. p.a. plus a ‘‘good fat hen at Chirstmas”. The land is described as a ‘‘house, barn and two closes of land in Rawdon”. No area is given. Possibly this is the same land that Francis Layton had sold to Field in 1657 (see a deed in Bradford Library in which the description is the same but adding, ‘‘known as Duck Royd”. Where was Duck Royd? I take the view that it would be near the River Aire, perhaps the flat land now known as Apperley Meadows. It is not possible to relate Benjamin to Edward Grimshaw.


3. In the mid-19th century Ivy House is referred to as ‘Highfield’. It should not be confused on old maps with ‘Highfield House’ (now Larkfield Grange) or with Highfield, now at the junction of Over Lane and Larkfield Road.


4. Abraham II had two wives, Rachel and Elizabeth, both with the surname, Bond. If they were sisters, the second marriage would not have been valid at that date. The ‘Table of kindred and affinity’ in the Book of Common Prayer was legally binding, even of Quakers.


5. Given as both Josiah and Josias. Josiah, King of Judah is as in 1 Kings 1. Esdras and Baruch in the Apocrypha call the same person Josias. I think Protestants would have preferred Josiah.


6. It was not until about 1890 that the Quakers, becoming concerned about ever increasing inter-marriage, rescinded this rule.