Richard Cleasby – philologist


By Unknown – This image is available from the National Library of WalesYou can view this image in its original context on the NLW Catalogue, Public Domain,

Richard Cleasby was born in 1797 and was baptized in Stoke Newington, his parents were Stephen Cleasby and Mary Wilson, both originally from Westmoreland. Richard was privately educated in London where he gained a classical education.

His father Stephen was a highly successful Russian broker and at the age of 15 Richard joined his father’s office and began to learn the trade. But by 1824 he had found that office life was not for him and asked his father to allow him to travel to Europe to pursue his interests in philology and literacy. He was privileged in that he had the money and backing of his parents to travel and learn as much as he could. He seems to have taken full advantage of this opportunity. I find it impossible not to mention the almighty chasm between his privileged life and that of the majority of the population at the time. I wonder how his father got the opportunity and circumstances to accrue such wealth.
After much travelling through Europe Richard embarked upon the mammoth task of writing an English/Icelandic dictionary.  In January 1840 he formed the plan of his Icelandic-English Dictionary, starting work by April.
The poetical vocabulary, prepared under his direction by Sveinbjörn Egilsson, was ready for publication in 1846. By 1847 Cleasby had set up type specimens of the dictionary. It was planned to complete the work at Copenhagen. This was put on hold by the sudden death of Richard from typhoid, he had long been sickly, suffering from a liver complaint which caused him to visit German spas (particularly Karlsbad) for recuperation purposes. He also travelled to England and Copenhagen frequently and had people employed in each place to write down his dictation.
After his death and the short term loss of some of his papers, Guðbrandur Vigfússon in 1864 took over the Dictionary.
The dictionary was finished in 1873, and published with a preface by Henry Liddell, and an introduction and memoir of Cleasby by George Webbe Dasent who had lobbied the Clarendon Press for backing. I am grateful to Dasent for his introduction as it gives an insight to Cleasby’s character and to what he did and who he met on his travels.
The introduction includes extracts from his diary that paint a colourful picture of his personality, he was a blogger!
An interesting journey
Hobnobbing with the Grimm brothers, who were also philologists, their stories were traditional folk tales that they translated.

An amateur piano player Mendelssohn

A visit to his family. I may start saying peregrination instead of journey!
The plans for the dictionary are set in motion.
I’ll leave Richard there for now or I will have no time for other Cleasbys, I think there will be few, if any, with so much detail about their lives and accomplishments.

<class=”booktitle”>An Icelandic-English Dictionary Richard Cleasby, Gudbrand Vigfusson

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Posted by on February 5, 2020 in Uncategorized


Cleasby wills

I have started to add wills and admons from Cleasbys to my website. So far I have only touched on those from the West Yorkshire archives, although all are actually in North Yorkshire so far.

Mary Cleasby 1845John Cleasby 1730
Edward Cleasby 1793​
​Annas Cleasby 1802
​John Cleasby 1809
Mary Cleasby 1845
​John Cleasby 1848
Anthony Cleasby 1850
John Cleasby 1857.

If a profession is given it is farmer or yeoman. About half of them leave their mark rather than a signature.

The wills are valuable sources of family information, the will of Edward Cleasby for example gives his sons’ names James and John and his brothers Anthony and David. John Cleasby (1809) gives his son’s names and his daughters’ married names.

So far no vast fortunes being bequeathed but the will of Mary Cleasby (pictured) leaves her daughter a new bedstead, feather bed and bedding and “any other little odd thing in the house that she fancy to have” which maybe shows a little of Mary’s character and her relationship with her daughter of whom she seems fond.


Source Information Yorkshire, England, Probate Records, 1521-1858 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015.

Original data: West Yorkshire Wills and Probate. Peculiar of Knaresborough (Honour Court), Wills, Administrations and Inventories. WYL1012. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Morley, Leeds, England.

West Yorkshire Wills and Probate. Archdeaconry of Richmond: Probate Records. RD/AP1. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Morley, Leeds, England.


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Posted by on January 17, 2020 in Uncategorized


Cleasby – what came first the name or the place?

Cleasby old map

From a Vision of Britain

For my second blog post towards my one name study I’ll talk about the meaning of the name Cleasby.

The general consensus is that it’s a geographical surname originating from Old Norse, the “by” ending meaning farm or settlement. The first part comes from the forenames either Kleppr or Kleiss.

The village of Cleasby in North Yorkshire, lies just over two miles from Darlington 30 miles from the area in Westmoreland where my Cleasby ancestors came from.

The question has to be: did the Cleasby family come from Cleasby or was Cleasby named after them?

Some sources say that the name starts with Harsculph Cleasby when land in that area was passed on from Enisan who died in the 12th century. However Harsculph’s father was William de Cleasby so it sounds like the place was named after Harsculph rather than the other way round. By the way Harsculph was also known as Harsculph Rufus and distantly related to William the Conqueror.


British History Online

National Archives




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Posted by on January 7, 2020 in Uncategorized


One name study – why Cleasby?

I am very excited to be embarking on a one name study, I have felt for some time that my research needed to be more focused and also that I should be doing something for other family historians, a one name study was appealing but the question was, what name?

I visited the Guild for One-Name Studies at Family History Live in 2019, I was advised to look for a name with between 500 and 1000 names in 1881. My maiden name of Jackson was clearly not going to be a contender.

The names Stevenson and Walker were eliminated for similar reasons, I also having taken a DNA test wanted to study a name that I had DNA connections to as well as a paper trail. This took me back to my Great Grandfather with the name Airey. Although not a common name I felt it was a little too common for my first attempt so Airey is on a back burner for now.

Going back two generations took me to the name Cleasby which fitted nicely into the quantity criteria. I’d also made a little start, tracing the descendants of my Great x 4 Grandfather Richard Cleasby.

My discovery of my Cleasby ancestors had been an adventure in itself, a brick wall with the name Cleasby behind it! It culminated in me finding DNA matches who also descend from Richard Cleasby and his wife Ann.

Ironically I had never heard the name Cleasby until about five years ago and I am yet to meet anyone with that name. However, I am fascinated to find out where they came from, what they did and where they ended up.

So let the project commence.

Cleasby art.png






Posted by on January 3, 2020 in Uncategorized


Bad trees drive out good

Times move on and while I will continue to talk about my direct ancestors I have decided to widen my blog to cover other matters relating to family history.

I want to give my view on the much debated issue of public versus private trees. This is constantly debated on social media and I never join in because often it distracts from the purpose of the group, but this is my blog, feel free to read and comment or ignore, it’s up to you!

I remember from learning Economics at school that there is the phrase/theory that “bad money drives out good” so if you have counterfeit money or even old tatty bank notes they are the ones you spend, passing on the problem to someone else, who in turn spends them and keeps them in circulation, whereas the real money gets banked or kept in your purse or wallet. It’s called Gresham’s law.

It’s the same with online trees, particularly on Ancestry where they are easy to create. People create a tree and make it public because they want to share what they have found (or because they don’t know they can make it private). Some people research thoroughly and find sources to verify each ancestor they add, others are very slapdash, have children born after their parents’ death or even before their parents’ birth, people added just because they have the same name but with no other justification, you get the picture. Others steer a middle course, adding ancestors that are plausible but perhaps not proving absolutely that every addition is correct. People also post photographs on their trees, bringing their trees to life.

The problem arises when people start copying from other trees and then doing their own incorrect research, so add good information to a bad tree. This leads people to rush for cover and make their tree private, so there are less good trees to views – bad trees drive out good.

There are two main types of complaint that cause people to make their trees private.

Copying of photographs – I agree it is polite to ask before you copy a photograph, although arguably it is a public tree so it can be construed that you are willing to share. My photos have been copied on several trees and I have no problem with that. I was pulled up once when I copied a picture and asked if I was related to the tree owner. I explained the relationship (Great Grandmothers were cousins) and we had a friendly correspondence after that. I make a point of asking permission now, but Ancestry do make it easy for you just to save someone, photo and all to your tree, so I don’t understand the surprise when people do just that as it’s probably what Ancestry intended.

Copying of people from a tree – again if your tree is public what do you expect? The issue is that people copy to their tree and then trace back incorrectly or copy information from incorrect trees. People’s response to having their ancestors put on an incorrect tree is to make their tree private. The result of this is that there are less “accurate” trees out there, so bad trees are (like money) driving out the good. This makes the bad tree suggestions appear in hints, Thrulines etc. exacerbating the problem.

Keeping your tree private from the word go – in a way I understand this, people have spent a lot of time and probably money researching their trees (particularly if this was in the pre-digital era) there is a reluctance to share with an upstart. I have found that these people are usually co-operative when I can prove a genuine interest, show research I have done and add information from my own branches. But why do you research your tree if you don’t want wider family to have access, people who are genuinely interested and may need a little help, people who maybe can’t afford an Ancestry subscription or to order multiple birth certificates or in these days DNA testing kits.

You may have picked up that I am in favour of public trees, as well as the bad trees driving out good, I believe in them for the following reasons.

I have spent a lot of time on my research, I’d like others to find it of interest and benefit. People who look at trees on genealogy sites are interested in family history, they may not know much about it but they have some interest or they wouldn’t be there.

If my tree is correct I’d like to share it. Hopefully the more discerning researcher will view my tree and if it differs from other trees they will be able to see by my use of sources and background information that I am likely to be accurate. Or if they aren’t sure they will ask me to prove my tree is correct. This has happened to me once, I was asked for the paper trail for my tree, I was happy to provide this and it made me do a thorough overhaul of this particular branch. I’d welcome more of this sort of interaction.

If my tree is incorrect I’d like people to tell me so I can put it right. People don’t do this often enough in my opinion. I had one comment that I had an ancestor on my tree who in fact had never had any children. I was a little surprised but found that I had an ancestor with two fathers (Ancestry lets you do this), I had copied details from an old pedigree which had turned out to wrong in places – old is not necessarily right.

and here’s the thing – your well researched private tree may not be right!

There are several reasons for this:

Infidelity – DNA has proved that what many people took as a given was not the case, I had a massive surprise in my own tree. Family traits I thought I had inherited, resemblances to other family members where all co-incidental.

Ancestors not telling the truth – Grandparents bringing up Grandchildren as their own child, I have one example of this in my tree (not a direct ancestor) that I knew about. I’ve also found a case where a Grandchild was baptised twice once by the mother and once by the Grandparents, but how many more slip through unnoticed because they are unnoticeable?

Spouses with the same name – I’ve found a case of a man who married three Marthas, all the deaths and marriages were between censuses but presumably the family knew by word of mouth that more than one wife was involved. Pre-census I am not sure how you would ever prove it except possibly by DNA matching.

Two people with the same name – just that, because you have a baptism in the right area at the right time doesn’t mean for sure you have the right person, your ancestor’s birth may not have been recorded, you may have found a cousin with the same name, even unusual forenames can run in families.

So by keeping your “perfectly researched” tree private you are potentially missing the opportunity for someone to, dare I say it, point out a flaw in your tree because they were maybe given some information by word of mouth that they have been able to check out.

DNA testers need trees

There are three main reasons people take a DNA test:

  • An interest in ethnicity
  • Seeking an adopted family
  • Expanding and confirming a family tree

Those testing for ethnicity purposes may be very disappointed (but that is another story) they may well be surprised by the results and want to investigate further by looking at their matches’ trees, this can’t be done if trees are kept private.

Those seeking adopted family really need searchable trees to work with as they have no tree of their own to compare with, private trees won’t help.

Those checking the veracity of their tree or trying to expand it further using DNA testing rely on other trees to check for shared ancestors. Why make things difficult for people by keeping your tree private when collaboration could be beneficial to both parties?

There is an argument for being a little more relaxed if you want to find connections to DNA matches. Ancestry has a fairly recent tree tagging system, the most relevant tags for “catching” DNA matches while not leading anyone up the garden path are

  • Hypothesis – use when you have a theory/hunch someone is your ancestor, maybe based on a series of clues.
  • Unverified – an ancestor taken from another tree, seems plausible, right time span, right area, maybe even documentation, but just needing that final bit of proof that it isn’t just a co-incidence.
  • Verified – all the above but with that final proof that makes it beyond co-incidence, gets harder the further back you go.
So if you want to catch those DNA matches this is a good way to go, but make sure you use the tags so people know just what they are looking at and will hopefully tag too.
Two public trees?
I am wondering now about having two public trees on Ancestry:
  • a verified tree, maybe with just direct ancestors I am absolutely sure about, with sources and links to any blog posts on that particular ancestor.
  • a dna tree, including hypotheses and unverified matches, nothing ridiculous but I would make it very clear on my profile that this was the purpose of the tree, I would obviously attach this tree to my DNA results.

But I’m determined to do all I can to stop bad trees driving out good.

What do you think?




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Posted by on December 17, 2019 in Uncategorized


Richard Cleasby and his dynasty

Richard Cleasby is my 4 x Great Grandfather, I know little about him apart from a few facts:

He was born in 1751, I know this from his death record which gives his age as 74. I know he is my ancestor by tracking back from my Great Great Grandmother Sarah Sellers I also have DNA matches that connect me to the Cleasbys. He died in Manchester and was probably living with his daughter Isabel/Isabella at the time, as she reported his death. Richard’s wife Ann (Cannon) died before the move to Lancashire probably in 1802 in Arkengarthdale.

F47FB371-0769-497B-84A1-70A3536910F1Some family trees give a birth for him at Mallerstang, Kirby Stephen, Westmorland but I don’t have proof this is correct, seems plausible though and ties him in with another family branch that went to Salford.

Burial: 13 Nov 1825 Cheetham Hill Chapel, Crumpsall, Lancashire, England

Rich. Cleasby –

Age: 74 yrs.

Abode: Manchester, Lancashire

Proprietors: Jas. Farr; Isabella Farr

Cause of Death: Bowel complaint

Buried by: Saml. Gibbons

Register: Burials 1823 – 1837, Page 49, Entry 1150

Source: LDS Film 560880


Richard was married to Ann Cannon in West Witton in 1774, they had a large brood of children. In this blog I have tried to track down these branches a couple of generations, it doesn’t make the most exciting reading but hopefully any descendants will appreciate my detective work. First generation are in bold second in brown and third in green.

William Cleasby 1776 – 1840

John Cleasby 1778 -1856

Richard Cleasby 1780 – 1840

This Richard married an Alice and also had numerous children but died pre-census, he was buried at St Mary the Virgin, Prestwich, Lancashire, England.

His children were James, John, Joseph, Mary, Ann, Alice, Richard and Sarah.

  • James Cleasby died young.
  • John Cleasby never married, he was a “general agent”, not sure what this means, maybe sales?
  • Joseph Cleasby was a fruiterer and beer seller, he married a considerably younger woman and had one son Thomas Edward Cleasby when he was forty years old.
  • Mary Cleasby also never married, she lived with various siblings, I expect she did housework for her keep.
  • Ann Cleasby married Henry Holcroft a wheelwright and had three children, Alice Julia Holcroft who never married but ran a shop, Lucy Holcroft who married Samuel William Perkin and had several children and Henry Holcroft who married his Uncle’s widow, more of him shortly.
  • Richard Cleasby was an innkeeper, he married a Frances Whittles, they didn’t have children, after Richard’s death Frances married Richard’s nephew Henry Henshall Holcroft when she was 56 and he was 23, they seemed to have the family’s blessing as Henry’s sister Alice Julia Holcroft was one of the witnesses. In the 1881 census Henry has gone from Wheelwright to Beer House Keeper, if he married Frances for her money then the plan failed (not that it seems she had much) young Henry died in 1887 aged 32, Frances who for some reason reverted to the Cleasby surname outlived him by eight years living to a good age of 78.

Richard had a thief at his public house according to newspaper accounts, I’m not sure if this indicates that the Cleasbys were unlucky or too trusting or more inclined to involve the police (see Jane Cleasby).


Margaret Cleasby 1782 -1834

Margaret is my proof that I am descended from the Cleasbys as I have DNA matches from some of her descendants in the states. She married an Edmund Dinsdale and had several children

  • William Dinsdale 1807–1854 he married twice, firstly Jane Iveson with whom he had three daughters, Peggy, Jane and Nancy Dinsdale. Secondly he married Mary Sunter and had six children, Elenor, Margaret, Edmund, Mary, Sarah Ann and Elizabeth Dinsdale.
  • Nancy Dinsdale 1808–1881 married Thomas Fawcett in 1847, they had no children but had a couple of Dinsdales living with them in various censuses, in 1851 John Dinsdale is described as a nephew, in 1861 there is probably the same John again (described as farm servant) with a Mary Dinsdale (house servant). In 1871 Nancy is living with just her husband and no servants. By 1881 she is widowed and living in Lancashire with her sister Sally/Sarah and family.
  • Richard Dinsdale 1810–1875 married Nanny Taylor and had six children, Christopher, Margaret, Owen, Nancy, Richard Cleasby and William Dinsdale.
  • Jane Dinsdale 1811–1872 married James Charnley and too moved to Lancashire, she had two children William and Mary Ann Charnley.
  • Thomas Dinsdale 1812–1875 stayed in Yorkshire, married Elizabeth Metcalfe and had a daughter, Margaret Dinsdale.
  • John Dinsdale 1813–1884 was a builder/stone mason he married Elizabeth Spencely, they had no children. He appears to have stayed in Yorkshire, although for some reason I previously had him recorded as dying in the USA.
  • Edmund Dinsdale 1815–1819
  • Jeffery Dinsdale 1817–1861 the census of the year of his death describes him as a farmer of 140 acres. He married a Jane Metcalfe and had a large family, several of whom ended up in Montana and who share DNA with me.

A DNA match and direct descendant of Jeffrey, shared this information (Old Jeff is son of this Jeffrey)

“My family’s living memory goes back to Jeffrey Dinsdale (1861–1941) who in our family was known as “Old Jeff”. He would be Margaret’s grandson. He and his wife and baby son Edward emigrated from England to Montana, USA in 1888. In the coming years, 4 of his sisters and a brother would also come, and they all homesteaded in Montana, near a small town called Red Lodge. They were farmers, ranchers and miners. Old Jeff was one of Red Lodge’s first policemen after the town was founded.”

  • Owen Dinsdale 1818–1834 the consensus seems to be that Owen died without marrying.
  • Sarah (Sally) Dinsdale 1822–1891 Sarah is called Sally on many family trees but I can find no documents where she is called anything other than Sarah. I can only presume this is what she was called by the family. Sarah married a William Coates and had a large family. They moved to Haslingden in Lancashire, many of the children only survived infancy but those that remained generally stayed in the Lancashire area with a few exceptions going to the other extreme and emigrating to Australia and New Zealand. Several of the women didn’t marry but lived to a good age. Generally their employment was related to textiles, working in the mills and in later generations as a milliner or tailor/costumier.

Mary Cleasby 1784 – ?

I don’t know what happened to Mary, if she remained unmarried there are a few deaths that could be her in Arkengarthdale in the late 1830s/early 1840s

Emanuel Cleasby 1786 -1864

Emanuel is the shepherd Uncle who my Great Great Grandmother Sarah Sellers kept house for sometime between 1841 and 1851. In 1841 Emanuel is living with his wife Alice (nee Allan) and a young woman Ann Garth, whether Ann kept house for them and/or was a relative also, I don’t know. I wonder if Alice was ill and that is why the extra help was needed. In 1851 Emanuel had been widowed and is now married to an Elizabeth (nee Willis) they have a granddaughter Jane Walker aged eight living with them, research shows she is daughter to Emanuel and Alice’s daughter Jane, whether she had been orphaned I am unsure. In 1861 Emanuel is 75 and living with Elizabeth and their one year old son Thomas Cleasby! Emanuel died in June 1864 and the same quarter Elizabeth married David Horner. For the 1871 census Thomas (Emanuel’s son) had changed his name to Horner, but he reverted back to Cleasby after he married.

  • Thomas Cleasby 1860 – ? Thomas married an Isabella Whittaker and eventually emigrated to British Columbia, Canada.

Emanuel also had several children with his first wife Alice, they were:

  • Jane Cleasby 1815 – 1849 was born in Widdle Harry, Yorkshire. Jane was the only one of the children with Alice who married (as far as I can tell). She married Joseph Walker a shoemaker and had two children: Jane Ann Walker (staying with her Grandfather Emanuel in 1851) and Catharine Cleasby Walker (living with her father and a housekeeper Bella James in 1851).
  • Richard Cleasby born 1817 Aysgarth died April 1846 in Askrigg.
  • Emanuel Cleasby born 1821 Wensley, Leyburn, to July 1839 Leyburn, Yorkshire.

Ann Cleasby 1788 – 1804

Betty Cleasby 1788 – ?

Born in 1788, was she Ann’s twin? She may well have married a William Pratt in Aysgarth in 1812 but can’t be sure it is the same Betty.

Sarah Cleasby 1790 – 1829

My direct ancestor! Sarah married James Pickard in 1814 in Aysgarth, he died in 1826 and it seems that they had no children. Sarah married Joseph Sellers, school master in 1827 in Middlesmoor, she died giving birth to their only child Sarah Sellars in 1829.

Isabel Cleasby 1791 – 1859

Isabel was a “working woman” describing herself as a dairy woman in both the 1841 and 1851 census. I wonder if it was her that Sarah Sellers stayed with sometime between these censuses, in both censuses Isabel had a young woman described as servant to the house living with her and one of these is another niece Alice Cleasby. Isabel married first Thomas Beverley in Manchester in 1815, Thomas died in 1817 and Isabel remarried in 1820 a James Tarr, they had one son:

  • Alfred Richard Tarr.

Thomas Cleasby 1793 – 1870

A character who bulks up the family tree a bit! He married Deborah Blades 12 OCT 1816 in Lunds, North Yorkshire, they had several children.

  • Agnes Cleasby born 1818 died in 1900 inWest Derby, near Liverpool. She married a Thomas Skirrow in Liverpool and had a son Thomas Cleasby Skirrow who died in infancy and a daughter Deborah Blades Skirrow. Deborah married James Fort and had three sons and three daughters they all lived to adulthood. Son James William Raymond Fort was a shipping clerk who joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and died in 1919. Son Samuel Richard Skirrow he was a commercial clerk in 1911 and was a full time Air Raid warden in WW2, he never married. Dora Cleasby Skirrow also remained single and in 1939 is keeping house for brother Samuel Cleasby Skirrow and another maiden sister Esther Mabel Skirrow a clerk in the National Health Service. Sister Bertha Winifred Skirrow married the flamboyantly named Devenport Warren Dixon and had a son, called unflamboyantly, Eric. Brother Kenneth Pendle Skirrow married Muriel Evelyn Holt, he became a grocer and ended up in Bolsover Derbyshire, he was a voluntary ARP, it seems they remained childless.
  • Deborah Blades Cleasby born 1819 in Lunds, Yorkshire died on 30 December 1887 in Liverpool, Lancashire, she married in Yorkshire a William Tunstall, and had three sons and two daughters. Isabell Tunstall was born and died in Yorkshire but was working as a servant in Birkdale, Lancashire in 1901, she didn’t marry. Son Robert Tunstall a Liverpool cowkeeper married a Wensleydale girl, Isabella Kirby, who ran a grocer’s shop after his death The couple had two sons and two daughters, of the two children who survived infancy: son, Robert Parkin Tunstall remained unmarried, he was a farm labourer in the 1939 census, again I presume he was involved with cow keeping. Daughter, Isabella Tunstall married a John Rice and had three daughters, all remained in the Liverpool area. By 1939 John Rice had died and Isabella was living with her three daughters and brother Robert, one of the daughters worked on the Football Pools and Isabella was an office cleaner. Thomas Tunstall was a shop porter and died in 1881 aged just 25. Agnes Tunstall also never married and spent her days as a servant in Walton village and Toxteth Park. The last of the family, William Tunstall a dairyman died in 1818, again without marrying.
  • Richard Cleasby was born in Yorkshire and died 1 June 1846 in Blades’s Farm, Lunds. He seems to have worked on his father’s farm.
  • Ann Cleasby was born and died in 1824 in Blades’s Farm, Lunds.
  • William Cleasby born 1829 in Lunds, died 1865 in Moorcock Inn, Hawes, he married Elizabeth Longstaff in 1849. They had daughter Mary Hewitson Cleasby born July 1852 in High Abbotside, Yorkshire, she married Edward Allen a surgeon, they live in Poulton Le Fylde Lancashire but were residing in Harrogate in 1911. Another daughter, and another Deborah Blades Cleasby, was born about 1856. Deborah married Joseph Slater and had three daughters and one son, she died in Dec 1923 in Sculcoates, Yorkshire East Riding. son William Cleasby Slater died in WW1 in Bagdad in 1917. Ann Slater was a governess in 1911 and later married Charles Greenslade Sallai something of a war hero, they had one daughter Patricia who married a John Knox. In the 1939 census widowed Ann is living with Patricia and her sister Mabel Slater born 1887, a nursing sister. Third sister Bella Slater was also a governess to a surgeon’s young children, all on holiday in Southport for the 1911 census, I don’t know what became of her.
William Cleasby Slater
  • Elizabeth Ann Cleasby was born in 1858 in Lunds, Yorkshire, England, she never married and worked as a housekeeper, I can’t find her in 1911 but she died in 1931 leaving her money to niece Annie, not sure why she got preference over Mabel who was definitely still alive.

Jane Cleasby 1795 – 1854

Jane was another working woman, described as a butcher and beer seller, (apparently the two professions went together), she married fellow Yorkshire man Robert Slinger in Manchester in 1821, he was a butcher and after his early death she continued the business, not successfully though as a newspaper article finds her in debtors court and by 1851 she is back living with her nephews John and Joseph and various other family members. I think Jane was a witness at Sarah Cleasby’s wedding and was probably one of the Aunts who Sarah Sellars stayed with. Jane died in 1854, but had four children who lived to adulthood, two girls and two boys. I feel sorry for Jane she seems to have had a raw deal, even had her house broken into and I don’t suppose she had much worth stealing. I am a DNA match to at least one of Jane’s descendants.


  • Elizabeth Jane Slinger was born in 1823 in Salford, Lancashire, she remained in Lancashire and died in 1871. She married a Richard Cadman and had four sons and three daughters. William Timothy Cadman born 1844 in Manchester died in 1885 in Blackburn, married Louisa Valentine Sanford and had one child Fred Sandford Cadman. Ellen Cadman born 1854 Pendleton, Lancashire married Luke Winstanley and had two sons William and Luke, the family moved to the USA in 1892 and settled in Massachusetts she died in 1920. Edwin Cadman born 1856 in Pendleton, Lancashire was a butcher like his grandparents, he married Mary Ann Holt and had one daughter Edith, he died aged 35 in 1891. Elizabeth Cadman born 1858 in Pendleton, Lancashire, it seems she never married and died in 1922. Mary Esther Cadman was born in Pendleton in 1860 she is still unmarried in 1901 and working as a servant, I don’t know what became of her. Robert Joseph Cadman born in 1862 in Salford and died in 1929 in Barton upon Irwell, Lancashire, He married Phoebe Kershaw and had two daughters and a son, they stayed in the Lancashire/Cheshire area, son Charles Cadman was born in 1864 in Pendleton, Salford, he followed his sister out to the USA in 1900 and in the 1900 census is living with them in Rhode Island and working as a clerk in a machine shop. By 1910 he is working as a postmaster in Pollock Idaho on the other side of the states. He remains in Idaho until the 1930 census, in his fifties and unmarried, still a postmaster. This all presumes I have the right Charles Cadman, I am going on the fact that the postmaster arrived in the USA in 1900 from England as well and the name is not that common.
  • Ann Slinger was born in 1828 in Salford, Lancs she died on 14 June 1884 in Salford Union Infirmary, Pendleton, Salford. Ann married John Bentham on 7 Apr 1846 in Eccles, Lancaster, they had several children. The first three died before adulthood. Robert Thomas Slinger was born 1 February 1846 in Cow Lane, Salford, he died on 14 Oct 1859 at the Dispensary, Salford from an accidental death, I wonder what happened? Robert was born before his parents marriage but was baptised as Robert Bentham. Jane Ann Bentham died aged four in 1851 at 10 Sackville Street, Salford. Isabella Bentham born 15 Jan 1850 in 10 Gaythorne Street, Salford she died before her first birthday on 24 Apr 1851 in 10 Sackville Street, Salford. Jane Bentham was born on 25 Feb 1852 in 2 Gaythorn Court, Salford. She married Adam Smith and had a small family. William Bentham was born on 5 Sept 1855 in 1 Gaythorne Court, Gaythorne Street, Salford, he died on 28 Sept 1893 in 1 South William Street, Salford. was born on 16 Nov 1858 in 1 Gaythorne St, Salford, he died in 1892 in Salford he married Mary Ann Jennings and had a large family. Elizabeth Bentham was born on 16 November 1858 at 1 Gaythorne St, Salford, she never married and died in 1892 in Salford. Robert Edward Bentham was born on 29 Mar 1863 in 1 Gaythorne Court, Gaythorne Street, Salford he died on 13 Jan 1865. Ann married for a second husband James Woodall on 5 November 1866 in St Simon’s Parish Church, Salford, they had one daughter Mary J Woodall born in 1864 in Salford.
  • Francis Slinger was born in 1829 in Salford, Lancs he died in 1884 in Prestwich.
  • John Cleasby Slinger born about 1830 in Salford, he died in January 1886 in Barton Upon Irwell, Lancashire, he was a successful grocer employing staff. He married Phillis Douglas and had a large family, three boys and nine girls. Alfred Douglas Slinger was born in 1854 in Manchester and died on 16 Oct 1917 in Manchester, Barton Upon Irwell, Lancashire. He married a Canadian woman named Lily Annette Townley had several children, his eldest son Robert Slinger became a surgeon. John Slinger born in 1856 married Alice Barber and had one son Ernest Cleasby Slinger a leather seller, John died on 30 Dec 1921 in Manchester. Robert Slinger was born in 1857 and died a year later. Mary Slinger was born in 1859 in Manchester, she died on 29 May 1920 in Lancashire. She married an Edward William Jones and they had a son Percy Cleasby Jones, there is a tribute to Percy’s life on Ancestry, he sounds delightful, loving photography and the poetry of Kipling. Phillis Jane Slinger was born in 1860 in Manchester, she never married but became a nurse, dying on 24 Jun 1925 in Cheshire. Annie Slinger was born in 1863 in Manchester, she married a Frederick William Moss and had a daughter Phillis Joan, she died 5 May 1945 in Cheshire. Elizabeth Slinger was born in 1867 in Manchester she married a Vicar named John Wesley Locker (a sort of nominative determinism) and they had two children, she died on 31 Jan 1938 in Sussex. Florance Slinger was born in 1869 in Manchester, she never married and may well have kept house for her three, unmarried, teacher sisters, she died on 17 November 1943 in Denbighshire. She is living with sisters Amelia, Maude and Edith in the 1911 census, I don’t know how she ended up in Wales. Frances Slinger another nurse was born in 1869 in Manchester, Lancashire, she died on 25 Mar 1952 in Cheshire. Amelia Gurtha Slinger a teacher, was born in 1874 in Manchester, Lancashire, she died on 9 Mar 1934 in Caernarvonshire, Wales. Maude Slinger another teacher, was born in 1876 in Manchester, and died on 11 Mar 1949 in Cheshire, England. In the 1939 census she is living with her sister Edith. Youngest of the family Edith Cleasby Slinger was an art mistress rather than a teacher, I’m not sure what the difference was. Edith was born in 1877 in Manchester and died on 29 May 1947 in Cheshire.

Nanny Cleasby 1795-1804

Alice Cleasby 1797-1838

The last of Richard and Ann’s brood, it seems likely that Alice died unmarried in 1838.


So while Richard Cleasby started life in the country and followed his family to the big city of Manchester, just across the Pennines; his descendants are scattered across the world, including the UK, Australia, Canada and the USA, from employment as farmers and dairy workers they moved on to being butchers, grocers, publicans and shopkeepers, from there they became salesmen, policemen, nurses and teachers, even a surgeon (although perhaps not such a large leap from butchery).

Some of Richard’s descendants have discovered they are DNA matches, I wonder what he would have made of it all? If you think he would be shaking his head or his fist because I’ve got something wrong then let me know and I’ll make suitable amendments, equally if you are a descendant and have more to add, then please get in touch.


2 CommentsPosted by on August 12, 2019 in Uncategorized

2 responses to “Richard Cleasby and his dynasty

    1. Kathleen Hayes

      August 13, 2019 at 11:49 pm

      Wow, what a lot of research you have done.

      I am also descended from Margaret Cleaseby. The first Jeffrey Dinsdale and Jane Metcalfe are my 3 times great grandparents. My 2 times great great grandmother was their eldest child, Margaret. Unlike her younger siblings who went to Montana, she stayed in the Hawes/Kirkby Stephen area and married John Pratt. They had 4 boys and I am descended from the eldest, William..

      The next two boys also went to Montana and met up with their uncles and aunts out there in Red Lodge. They married but did not have any children. I have quite a lot of pictures of them as William went to see them in 1932 when he retired. I also went to Red Lodge a few years ago and met up with some distant cousins.

      The 4th boy stayed in West Yorkshire in the Dent/garsdale area. He died fairly young but was married with a daughter i think.

      William Pratt, my great grandfather, married Eliza Heyes in Hawes but they moved to Newbiggin-on-Lune in North Westmorland where they had a large tailors and drapery shop. They had 5 children and I am descended from the eldest, Helena (Ella) who married a Metcalfe (there are tons of Metcalfes in Hawes) and they farmed in Westmorland all of their lives. They had 2 daughters, Rhoda and Elsie. Elsie was my mother and died in 2013. She farmed near Kendal all of her life, with my Dad who only died a few weeks ago. I am the eldest of their 4 children but sadly none of us are farmers. I’m retired now but was an accountant and have lived just south of Manchester for most of my adult life. So it is interesting to see that some ancestors were in North Manchester 200 years ago.

      It would be interesting to have a chat sometime.

      Best wishes

      Kathleen Hayes

        • fancyweaver

          August 14, 2019 at 8:27 pm

          Thanks for your reply Kathleen I had thought you were in the USA as well. I’ll send you may email address via Ancestry so we can get in touch outside an open forum.

          I discovered the Manchester Cleasbys first because I knew my GGGrandmother Sarah Sellers had stayed with them after being orphaned. I have a sampler she made aged nine (look her up in this blog) and I imagined her living a sedate life with her (probably) maiden Aunts, it sounds like it was a much more rough and ready existence. Sarah had 13 children but only five survived, out of those only two had children, my Great Grandfather, had one daughter, my Grandmother had one son and I am an only child, I broke the trend and have two daughters. Sarah’s son John had four children and one of his daughters had two daughters one of whom traced the tree a fair bit before computers but didn’t make the Cleasby connection. She is married to a farmer in North Yorkshire (although retired now) and has a couple of children as does her sister. One of John’s sons had a daughter (I think) but as you can tell our line is pretty sparse.

          I read somewhere that everyone in North Yorkshire is descended from a Metcalfe, I am as well.

          I grew up in the North West but near Liverpool, so it is interesting to see that a branch of the Cleasbys ended there too, my Grandmother would have been surprised to know she had Liverpudlian cousins, she spent the last 30 years of her life in Merseyside and died just short of her 100th birthday, Winifred Willis Aires on the blog.

          Best wishes


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1 Comment

Posted by on September 26, 2019 in Uncategorized


Ann Elizabeth Griffiths

Ann Elizabeth Griffiths is my 3 x Great Grandmother and from what I can make out from the census returns and one newspaper account her story seems to be a sad one.

She is definitely in the 1861 census living in Wombourne, Staffordshire with her three children, Hannah Elizabeth aged 8 (my Great Great Grandmother), Sarah Ann aged 5 and George Henry aged 3, Ann Elizabeth is described as a farm labourer. Her marital status is difficult to read but I know from Hannah’s birth certificate that Ann was unmarried so all three children were illegitimate.

It seems that for whatever reason Ann Elizabeth found it difficult to cope. In August 1861 she and two of her children, George Henry and Sarah Ann are recorded as being in the workhouse (not sure where Hannah would be). A month later in 1861 a newspaper cutting reveals that Ann Elizabeth (Anne) was imprisoned for a month as a “rogue and vagabond” for abandoning her three children.

Screenshot 2016-09-03 10.08.50

Ann Griffiths

The term Rogue and Vagabond sounds rather dramatic but apparently beggars’, crimes were categorised in the following way from 1832 onwards and determined the compulsory prison sentence they received.

So this was obviously Ann Elizabeth’s second offence and she received the correct sentence for her “crime”.

Ann Elizabeth cannot be found on any later censuses, it seems possible that she died in 1864, I will follow this up when I get hold of the death certificate. By 1871 George Henry and Sarah Ann are at the South-East Shropshire District School for paupers and Hannah is working as a servant, both Hannah and George Henry end up in Darlington and lived reasonably long and productive lives from such unfortunate beginnings, Hannah lived until the age of 78 and had eight children (plus two milk children who lived to a healthy old age), George Henry a brick layer lived to 68 and also had eight children, six of whom grew up to adults.



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Posted by on January 16, 2019 in Uncategorized