The Rawling Ancestors

The Rawlings

This page tells the story of the Rawling line of the family. If you want to see a detailed diagram of the Rawling ancestors, then click Rawling 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 Doris Spencer. The surname Rawling is derived from the Middle English personal name Rawlin. However, in the earliest records, the name was spelt Rowling and morphed into Rawling in the early 1800’s. Rowling is thought to derive from a personal name Rollo. The main geographical concentration of both names is found in Yorkshire, suggesting a Yorkshire origin.

The Rawlings in our family lived most of the time on the north side of Leeds. The earliest refence I have found to the Rawling ancestors was in 1767, so the story starts from there.

Joseph Rowling and Mary Horsfield

The reference I have found was the marriage of Joseph Rowling and Mary Horsfield on the 23rd Feb 1767 at Harewood. Harewood is about eight miles north of the centre of Leeds. When Joseph died in Adel Yorkshire in 1803, the parish records show him as aged 61 and that he was a farmer. This would mean he was born about 1742. Mary died in 1837 in Adel. The parish records show she lived to the ripe old age of 92 which means she was born around 1745.

William Rowling and Martha Todd

William was a son of Joseph and Mary and was born in 1767 in Harewood Yorkshire. He married Martha Todd in 1797. They had 3 children. Martha was born in 1775 in Adel Yorkshire, which is about six miles south-west of Harewood.

When William’s daughter Ann was christened, the parish records show they were living in a village called Weardley which is part of the Harewood Estate. This could mean they were tenant farmers on the Harewood Estate. William was still working as an agricultural labourer in the 1841 census at the age of 74. He died in 1849 and Martha died in 1827.

Harewood House was designed by architects John Carr and Robert Adam and was built between 1759 and 1771 for the wealthy plantation and slave owner Edwin Lascelles. The estate covered an area of over 4,000 acres extending from Weardley in the west to East Keswick in the east.

Ann Rowling

Ann was a daughter of William and Martha and was born in 1803 in Weardley.

Ann had a son called Charles. She appears to be an unmarried mother as there is no father recorded in the parish records. She didn’t seem to change her ways as two years later she was still unmarried and had another child called Sarah.

After the birth of her daughter, I have been unable to find any mention of Ann, so I don’t know if she was living with her parents or how she was supporting herself and her children. When we get to the first census in 1841, there is no trace of her and her children are living with other people.

Her daughter Sarah was living with another family called Pearson. Her son Charles also appears in the 1841 census. He is 15 years old and working as an agricultural labourer for a farmer called John Clough.

Charles Rawling and Jane Bateman

Charles was the son of Ann Rowling and was born in 1825 in Harewood. He married Jane Bateman in 1850. They had 11 children. Jane was christened in 1829 in Cattal Yorkshire although her parents lived in the next village Kirk Hammerton. This is about seven miles north of Wetherby.

Charles originally worked as an agricultural labourer. Then around 1855, they moved to Collingham, which is about five miles east of Harewood near Wetherby. There he continued to work as an agricultural labourer. But low wages would drive many to the cities and Charles moved to Leeds at some point in the 1870s. He got a job as a labourer in a brickyard. He died in 1895 and Jane died in 1903.

Charles Rawling and Laura Mills

Charles was a son of Charles and Jane and was born in 1857 in Collingham Yorks. After his family moved to Leeds, he married Laura Mills in 1878 in Wortley. They had 6 children. Laura was born in 1857 in Hitchin Hertfordshire. Charles’ marriage certificate says his occupation was Cart Driver.

There is a family story that when Charles met Laura, she was working as a dancer on the stage. I have not been able to verify this as there was no occupation shown on her marriage certificate. When he married her, his family shunned him for a while because they were Quakers and didn’t approve of her. His father used to read prayers every morning from a Bible on a lectern. There is more information about the Mills family below.

Laura Rawling and Joseph Wilfred Revell

Laura was a daughter of Charles and Laura and was born in 1883 in Leeds. She married Joseph Revell in 1904 in Bramley. They had 8 children. She worked as a sewing machinist in Tailoring. Joseph’s information is on the Revell page. These are the parents of grandma Doris Spencer so I have come to the end of the Rawling ancestors.

The Mills

This section has information about parents of Laura Mills (Charles Rawling’s wife). They were Thomas and Sarah Mills and they lived in Hitchin Hertfordshire.

In the 1851 census, Thomas and Sarah are married and living together in Hitchin. He gave his occupation as a Fellmonger. A fellmonger is a dealer in hides and skins. The name is derived from the Old English ‘fell’ meaning skins and ‘monger’ meaning dealer. He bought sheep skins and cow hides from the abattoirs, removed the hair and wool by chemical processes, then sold the products on to Tanners and Wool Merchants. Fellmongering has a long history and is considered one of the oldest crafts in the world.

In the 1861 census there is no mention of Thomas, but Sarah describes herself as a soldier’s wife. I have not been able to verify that he had become a solider, perhaps she just used that as a story to explain her missing husband. He is still missing in the 1871 census but then in the 1881 census, he turns up miles away in Stratford upon Avon, still working as a fellmonger. He was still in Stratford when he died in 1887. This all suggests that he had deserted his wife.

Sarah’s occupation in the census is shown as a straw plaiter. She plaited straw which was then sold on to hatters to make straw hats. Straw plaiting was a booming occupation for women in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, supplying the hat trade in London. Sarah’s mother was also a straw plaiter.

In the 1871 census, there were about 12,000 women in Hertfordshire who gave their occupation as a straw plaiter. Often, they could make more money than their husbands. They even had straw plaiting schools for girls.

straw plaiting school
Straw plaiting school

Sarah was having to work because her husband Thomas doesn’t appear to be on the scene after 1851. The 1891 census shows Sarah had moved north and was living in Armley. It is possible the whole family moved up to Leeds together as her daughter Annie was a witness when her other daughter Laura married Charles Rawling in Leeds. By then Sarah must have given up on her husband returning and decided to move to Leeds with her daughter.

Thomas Mill’s father Joseph was also a fellmonger. However later in life he fell on hard times. The 1851 census shows him living in the Hitchin Workhouse. In the 1841 census, it shows Joseph’s wife Ann was born in Ireland. Unfortunately, it does say where in Ireland she was born so I have been unable to trace this Irish ancestry.