The Moorby Ancestors

The Moorbys

This page tells the story of the Moorby line of the family. If you want to see a detailed diagram of the Moorby ancestors, then click Moorby Tree. This will open in a new tab so that you can flip between this page and the diagram.

These are the ancestors on the maternal line of Grandma Alice Dacre. The surname Moorby is thought to derive from a place called Moorby. There was a Moreby south of York, but all there is now is Moreby Hall and Moreby Woods. The main concentration of the name is in Yorkshire and Lancashire.

The Moorbys in our family lived mainly in Beeston south Leeds. The earliest refence I have found to the Mooby ancestors was in 1801, so the story starts from there.

Nathan Moorby and Mary Langstaff

The earliest details that I have found was the marriage of Nathan Moorby and Mary Langstaff on the 17th May 1801 in Batley which is ten miles south-west of Leeds. They moved to Beeston which is on the south-west outskirts of Leeds. I have not been able to find out anything else about them except Mary died in 1847.

Henry Moorby and Mary Heaton

Henry was a son of Nathan and Mary and was born in 1817 in Beeston Yorkshire. He married Mary Heaton in 1839. They had 5 children. Mary was also born in Beeston Yorkshire in 1816. Henry worked as a coal miner, as did Mary’s father Benjamin. Henry died in 1888 and Mary died in 1864.

Benjamin Moorby and Mary Hannah Gomersall

Benjamin was a son of Henry and Mary and was born in 1847 in Beeston Yorkshire. He married Mary Hannah Gomersall in 1857. They had 4 children. Mary was born in 1849 in Beeston.

Benjamin’s occupation was an Iron Moulder. Mary’s father Thomas Gomersall worked at an Iron Foundry, so he may have helped Benjamin get a job there. An iron moulder made the moulds from which iron castings were made. The moulder used a special wooden pattern or wax model to shape the mould. The model was then removed leaving the shape required, thus creating the mould for the molten iron.

As there was a supply of iron ore from the local ironstone seams, some of this iron ore was processed in local iron works. As Benjamin lived on the east side of Leeds, it is possible he worked at the York Road Iron Works. There is still a Foundry Lane near the location of the ironworks.

York Road Iron Works
York Road Iron Works

Mary’s mother was Hannah Swainson and her family came from Westmorland (now Cumbria). I have managed to find some information about her family so that is at the end of this page.

Benjamin died in 1923 and Mary died in 1905.

Mary Hannah Moorby and Walter Dacre

Mary was a daughter of Benjamin and Mary and was born in 1876 in Leeds. She married Walter Dacre in 1900. I have already covered Walter and Mary in the Dacre page.

These are the parents of grandma Alice Dacre so I have come to the end of the Moorby ancestors.

Mary Hannah Moorby
Mary Hannah Moorby

William Swainson

Mary Hannah Gomersall was the wife of Benjamin Moorby. Her mother was Hannah Swainson and her grandparents were William and Sarah Swainson who came from Cumbria. This is information about her grandparents.

William Swainson married Sarah Coulthwaite on the 6th April 1809. They were married in a small village called Bolton in Cumbria. The economy of the village was based on agriculture. A newspaper report on William’s death in 1849 said he was 61 when he died. That would mean he was born around 1788. I found his christening which was in a village called Brampton in Cumbria which is four miles east of Bolton where they were married. When Sarah died in 1868, it records her age as 80. So she too would have been born around 1788. I have been unable to find her christening.

At some point they moved from Cumbria to Morley Yorkshire because he was listed in a 1826 Morley directory as a school master. He was still working as a school master in the 1841 census.

I found an extract from an old book written in 1886 called ‘Morley Ancient and Modern’. I think the writer had been a pupil of William Swainson as he gave this memory of his school days.
‘In 1810 the Rev. I. Balmforth was the master of the school then a Mr. Trenholme occupied the position and after him Mr. William Swainson, who occupied the post of master during our earliest school boy days. In addition to his scholastic duties, he was assistant overseer, and general manager of township business. His pupils being always young, he seldom got them so far as algebra, though he was undoubtedly a good mathematician, and contributed occasionally to the mathematical columns of the Ladies Diary.
He took great pains with orthography and writing. He was strict in discipline, and used the cane pretty freely. Mr. Swainson, along with his contemporary, Mr. David Butterfield, was skilled to rule, but there were other schools where the masters and dames were exceedingly illiterate, making up in severity what they lacked in knowledge. Many well-to do Morley villagers have to thank the humble academy on Troy Hill for what book-learning they began life with.’

The Ladies Diary mentioned there, was an almanack that appeared annually in London from 1704 to 1841. Its subtitle indicated its purpose:
“Containing New Improvements in ARTS and SCIENCES, and many entertaining PARTICULARS: Designed for the USE AND DIVERSION OF THE FAIR SEX.”

One of its main features was mathematical puzzles. Although it was originally aimed at women, the puzzles also attracted male readers with contributions coming from a lot of men including William. This resulted in it becoming The Lady’s and Gentleman’s Diary after 1841.

William was also mentioned in a newspaper report about a meeting of the Guardians of the Dewsbury Union. He was appointed as The Assistant Overseer and Collector of the Poor Rates for Morley at an annual salary of £25 a year. He must have had a good reputation to be appointed to this important position. It also mentions that he was a vestry clerk.

Another reference I found seems to show he was heavily involved in many aspects of the town’s business.
‘Mr. Swainson also filled the offices of Town’s Husband, Assistant Overseer, Clerk to the Surveyors, Registrar, Town’s Valuer, and we know not what besides.’

He died in 1849 and this was recorded in the local paper where it summarised his achievements. He was described as ‘the much-respected school master, registrar of births, marriages and deaths and overseer of upwards of twenty-five years’.
He appears to have been a very talented and very respected man.

After William’s death, Sarah is shown in the 1851 census as living with two of her children. One of them, also Sarah was a school teacher, obviously taking after her father. Sarah died in 1868.