On Tuesday I paid my first ever visit to Huddersfield, for a meeting at the university. It was a gloriously sunny day and I made sure to take photographs of some of the Yorkshire town’s imposing Georgian and Victorian architecture. One or two of the buildings were of particular interest to me, for family history reasons. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries Huddersfield was home to members of the Mortimer family, who form one branch of my maternal family tree. 

Huddersfield railway station

Huddersfield railway station, with a statue of the town’s most famous son, Harold Wilson © Martin Robb 2016

My link to the Mortimers is via my maternal 5 x great grandfather Joseph Holdsworth. Born near Halifax in about 1735, Joseph came south to a farm in South Weald, Essex, and married my 5 x great grandmother Elizabeth Collins née Gibson in Bermondsey in 1763.

Joseph Holdsworth was the son of John Holdsworth of Sowood House, Coley, to the north of Halifax, and Mary Mortimer, who were married in 1725. I haven’t been able to discover anything about John’s forebears, but we know that Mary was the daughter of clothier and wool stapler John Mortimer of Shelf (d. 1742) and his wife Judith Woodhead (1681 – 1740), who were thus my 7 x great grandparents. They had five other children: Richard, Martha, John, Sarah and William.

Parish church of St Peter, Huddersfield, where some of my Mortimer ancestors were christened, married and buried.

Parish church of St Peter, Huddersfield, where some of my Mortimer ancestors were christened, married and buried. © Martin Robb 2016

Of these, we know that my 7 x great uncle John Mortimer junior, who was born in 1711, was married to a woman named Mary and that they lived at Woodhouse, Fartown, near Huddersfield. John died in 1747, leaving two sons, Samuel, born in 1744, and another John, born in the year of his father’s death. Samuel and John were my first cousins, 7 times removed.

The George Hotel, Huddersfield

The George Hotel, Huddersfield © Martin Robb 2016

The younger son, John, married Susan Hanson and lived at Paddock near Huddersfield. He described himself as a ‘gentleman’ in his will of 1823, and he left a substantial amount of money in his will when he died. John’s brother Samuel was less fortunate. In 1769 he married Frances Murgatroyd, daughter of the landlord of the George Hotel (see above), a role which Samuel would eventually assume. Frances died just two years after their marriage, and three years after that, Samuel Mortimer filed for bankruptcy. Nothing is known of what became of Samuel after this, but I assume that he died before his brother John, who doesn’t mention him in his will.

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