Tattersfield Gathering in Yorkshire

A remarkable Tattersfield Gathering took place in West Yorkshire in Sept 2012. It involved all the known descendants, who were available, of JOSEPH Tattersfield (1849-1920) and his wife Betsy nee Pickering (1848-1916).

The idea was first proposed in 2010 by their descendants in USA, whose grandparents emigrated there in 1924. They had had their own celebration in 2004 of the 80th anniversary of their arrival in Philadelphia, and now felt the desire for a “pilgrimage” to West Yorkshire.

I put together the outline of six days of activities. Detailed planning was done by my cousins, Vicki and Pete Jackson, who live in Gomersal. Our objective was to visit as many of the homes, places of worship and of work as we could find.

Eleven relatives came from America, one from Australia, and one from London, and were augmented by more “local” Tattersfield descendants. We stayed in the delightful Healds Hall Hotel in Liversedge, which was very central to our main areas of interest- Heckmondwike, Dewsbury, Ravensthorpe and Mirfield. We hired a coach for five days to get to our destinations. Plotting a route through some of the narrow streets was often not easy.

Our mutual great great grandfather GEORGE Tattersfield had owned three mills in Ravensthorpe and Mirfield, called Spring Place Mills, Oakland Mill and Bankside Mill. He went bankrupt in 1887, after which some of his sons ran the mills for a while, including our great grandfather JOSEPH.

In the Censuses of 1851 and 1861, GEORGE and his family lived at Brick House, Ravensthorpe. In later years it became the public library. It was demolished a few years ago, and replaced by the modern Greenwood Centre. By coincidence, in 2012 the West Yorkshire Joint Services embarked on The Ravensthorpe Heritage Project, which included an archaeological dig in the grounds of the former Brick House. They contacted us through this Tattersfield website, and this gave rise to a useful exchange of information and ideas.

We assembled in our hotel on Sunday, 16th Sept, and had a “welcome” drink and private dinner, some of us meeting for the first time.

First Dinner Together at Healds Hall Hotel-sporting our white rose badges brought by David West with caption “Tattersfield Yorkshire 2012”

On our first day in the area, Mon 16th Sept, we drove through Mirfield to see such relevant family sites as Spring Place Mills (very recently re-developed as a new housing estate), Craven Street, Dunbottle and Wellhouse Moravian School. Arriving at The Greenwood Centre, we were warmly welcomed, and treated, in addition to tea and biscuits, to a talk on the area and a display of useful local maps and photos.

A short walk along the main road took us past what remains of Oakland Mill, to Jessamine Cottage, home of JOSEPH, Betsy and family in 1881.

We then drove to Dewsbury Minster. The first Tattersfield record in its registers was a marriage in 1686. Another marriage followed in 1712, from which there was a continuous stream of baptisms, marriages and burials down to very recent times. Sample records were looked at, and the changes to the church interior and the historical displays were much admired.

Two further homes of JOSEPH and Betsy were seen in SavileTown, Dewsbury, including one in South Street, where JOSEPH died in 1920.

The first known Tattersfields in Kilpin Hill, Heckmondwike, were JOSEPH (1747-1795) and Sarah nee Carr (1749-1819). They had married in Dewsbury Minster in 1768. They began a large and successful colony of Tattersfields in and adjacent to Kilpin Hill, which flourished as weavers, clothiers, and, later, blanket manufacturers. We walked along the top of Kilpin Hill, seeing typical houses and weavers’ cottages, some of which had belonged to Tattersfields. In one such house, at the top of Robin Lane, we were all generously invited in to tea, scones and cake, by the present owner, Mrs Janet Stocks.

Our first day of sight-seeing ended with a good pub meal in the Wheatsheaf, Gomersal. We were well entertained by a programme of poetry, performed by Alan and Carol Walker, in Yorkshire dialect.

By way of contrast, the next day, Tuesday,we went in our coach to York. The day was kindly arranged by my cousin Judith Thomas, and her husband Richard. We had a guided tour of the Bedern Glaziers Studio of the York Glaziers Trust, and were fascinated and hugely impressed by the meticulous professionalism with which the mediaeval east window of the Minster is being restored.

A guided tour of York Minster, lunch in The Treasurer’s House, and a walk on the city walls under the expert guidance of Richard, rounded off the day.

GEORGE ARTHUR Tattersfield, the eldest son of JOSEPH and Betsy, lived and worked in Bradford before emigrating to Philadelphia in 1924. On the Wednesday we visited three addresses in Manningham- in Saltburn Place, Jesmond Avenue and Haslingden Drive- where the family lived between 1911 and 1924. In fact in 1911 the family lived in 24 Saltburn Place, while the author and broadcaster J.B.Priestley lived with his parents and sister across the road in No 5. Surely the families would have known each other and likely that Marjorie Tattersfield would have played with JB’s sister.

We were no doubt a strange sight, some 20 of us, with cameras at the ready, walking through quiet residential streets. When we explained to local residents that the grandparents of most of our rather elderly group had lived there almost 100 years ago, they were delighted to chat with us and exchange stories.

Lunch was taken in nearby Saltaire, the nineteenth century model industrial village created by Titus Salt. There was time for a brief look around the massive Salt’s Mill,with its many displays, before going on to see textile machinery, running and being demonstrated, in the Eccleshill Industrial Museum, Bradford.

We returned to Heckmondwike, where Upper Chapel was kindly opened for us by Mr. David Crowther. This was the place of worship for the Kilpin Hill colony of Tattersfields, many of whom were Trustees and held other posts. We were able to see some of the records, including the Register of Baptisms. This contains a large number of Tattersfield baptisms, from the first in 1788 to the last in the 1960’s, being my cousins Anne and Roger Tattersfield, and Judith Thomas (born Tattersfield).

Joseph Priestley, discoverer of oxygen and other gases,was born in Birstall and then lived in Heckmondwike and attended Upper Chapel there. He also was a pupil at Batley Grammar School, where many Tattersfields, including myself, were schooled. After leaving England on account of his unpopular views on the relationship between Church and state, he went to Pennsylvania, and had an impact on the thinking behind the Constitution of the United States. He died in Pennsylvania, making his life especially interesting to our American cousins. We were very fortunate and grateful that Prof Les Woodcock, Chairman of The Priestley Society, kindly joined us for dinner at Healds Hall Hotel, and afterwards talked to us, with great knowledge and conviction, about Joseph Priestley.

Thurs 20th Sept was another “away day”, again kindly organised by cousins Judith and Richard Thomas. We had a fascinating conducted tour of Harewood House, followed by lunch in the Terrace Restaurant overlooking the garden and park. From there we took our coach, via Ilkley, to the Cow and Calf, where, in the relative privacy of the coach, we gave a resounding rendering of “On Ilkla Moor baht’at”. I am pleased to record that, not only were our visitors in fine voice, but they succeeded in mastering the accent as well. It must be in the genes!

A brief drive took us on to Bolton Abbey, where our grandparents would have made day visits, and then on to Harrogate where we were kindly treated to supper in the lovely home of cousins Judith and Richard Thomas.

On Friday the main group went to the fascinating Colne Valley Museum in Golcar,Huddersfield, which is housed in a row of original weavers’ cottages. Volunteers, in period costume, demonstrated the pre-Industrial Revolution cottage machinery, and techniques for spinning, weaving and clog making. This was followed by a delicious lunch in the Museum, taken in the downstairs kitchen so reminiscent of our ancestors’ homes in Kilpin Hill.

Friday morning was the official day for presenting the Ravensthorpe Heritage Project to the public, in the Greenwood Centre. Cousin Vicki Jackson and I went there, to see the displays and hear the speeches. We were fortunate to meet the Mayor and other dignitaries, including an unexpected meeting with Mrs. Audrey Tattersfield, of Mirfield.

After a fascinating morning, another treat was in store. We were kindly invited into The Mansion House, Heaton Lodge, Mirfield, by its owners Mr. and Mrs L. Moon. Documentary evidence, some of which Mr. and Mrs. Moon supplied, shows that GEORGE Tattersfield and his family lived there for a few years in the 1870’s.

Friday evening was the highlight of the week. Great grandparents JOSEPH and Betsy had five sons. Two of them, GEORGE ARTHUR and JOSEPH STANLEY, emigrated to Philadelphia. One son CHARLES PICKERING (Charlie), remained in Batley as a mill manager. HERBERT left the area for Nottingham and, later, Leicester, with an insurance company. The youngest, JAMES PERCIVAL, after going to Madagascar with the London Missionary Society from 1924-1931, returned to England to be a Congregational Minister in Lincolnshire.

On Friday evening we were joined by grandchildren of HERBERT and JIM, all of us being second cousins. Some of the next generation came, too, being third cousins to each other. Two more arrived from America, and many others from different parts of England. In all, 50 of us sat down to a most memorable dinner at our hotel. The meal was punctuated by frequent moves, to allow us all to meet as many “cousins” as possible. Members of the different families gave short talks about themselves, their parents and grand parents, where we had been, and what had become of us.

On adjacent tables was a vast array of family photographs and newspaper cuttings. We had the unexpected pleasure of seeing a silver urn presented to JOSEPH and Betsy by their family on their silver wedding anniversary in 1897. Also on display was JOSEPH’s silver-handled walking stick.

The whole week was a most moving and enlightening experience. Brought together by the common interest of joint ancestry, we all delighted in each other’s company, shared photographs and family anecdotes. It is surely a testament to our parents and grandparents that we have retained such a strong feeling of family identity and affinity, after nearly 100 years of separation.

A photographer from the Dewsbury Reporter took a group photo of all 50 of us together. This is shown below. A list of all those present at the final dinner follows, indicating to which of the families they belong.

We are all very grateful to Vicki and Pete Jackson, and to Judith and Richard Thomas, for so meticulously making the detailed arrangements.

John Tattersfield.
October 2012.



This was a gathering of the great grand children and some great great grandchildren of Joseph Tattersfield (1849-1920) and Betsy, nee Pickering (1848-1916).

They had five sons and five daughters. Descendants of all five sons were present. Of the five daughters, two did not marry, one married but had no children, and two married and each had one child. There has been no contact for many years with any descendants of the daughters.

Grandparents George Arthur TATTERSFIELD and Marion nee Haigh

Name “Tattersfield” Parent Spouse Present
David West Marjorie West Sue West
– Sally Williams David West
Gordon West Marjorie West Joan Grander
– Caroline West Gordon West
George Tattersfield Arthur Tattersfield Gail Tattersfield
Pat Poitras Arthur Tattersfield Jim Poitras
Judy Sandorf Geoffrey Tattersfield Charlie Sandorf

Grandparents Charles Pickering TATTERSFIELD and Ethel nee Chadwick

Name “Tattersfield” Parent Spouse Present
John Tattersfield Joseph Alfred (Alf) Tattersfield Judy Tattersfield
– George Tattersfield John Tattersfield
– Rosie Reid John Tattersfield Joe Reid
Phyllis Prior Joseph Alfred (Alf) Tattersfield
Shirley Martin Dorothy Cooke Colin Martin
– Justine White Richard Cooke
– Sam Cooke Richard Cooke
Anne Tattersfield Percy Tattersfield
Roger Tattersfield Percy Tattersfield Gill Tattersfield
Judith Thomas Percy Tattersfield Richard Thomas
– Elizabeth Grant Judith Thomas
– Edward Thomas Judith Thomas
Vicki Jackson Barbara Parkin Peter Jackson
– Paul Jackson Vicki Jackson
– Eleanor Finn Vicki Jackson Jack Finn
— Clara Caitlinn Finn Eleanor Finn
— Matilda (Tilly) Mae Finn Eleanor Finn
Linda Wilkinson Barbara Parkin John Wilkinson
– Richard Wilkinson Linda Wilkinson

Grandparents Joseph Stanley TATTERSFIELD and Janie nee Pickles.

Name “Tattersfield” Parent Spouse Present
Brenda Azario Lilian Tandy

Grandparents Herbert TATTERSFIELD and Lilian nee Coatsworth.

Name “Tattersfield” Parent Spouse Present
Jane Weyer Winifred Perkins
Ivan Nicholls Mary Cumming (in-law) for Patricia Nicholls
Helen Cole Mary Cumming Basil Cole
Virginia Speed Kathleen Hurst
Mandy James Edith James

Grandparents James Percival TATTERSFIELD and Annie Mackie nee Jamieson.

Name “Tattersfield” Parent Spouse Present
Margaret Davidson George Arthur Tattersfield
– Kayleigh Davidson Margaret Davidson with Rob Grout
Jane Havercroft Isobel Havercroft
Clare Hutchinson Isobel Havercroft

Descended from Joseph T. (1747-95) and Sarah nee Carr (1749-1819).

Name “Tattersfield” Parent Spouse Present
David Tattersfield Dawn Tattersfield

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