The search for my Bancroft ancestors




The Search for my BANCROFT ancestors

How did it all start?
How did I become interested in researching my Family History?

After the death of my Grandmother, Hettie Bancroft in 1982, the family were going through the many things she had collected over her long life of 90 years, and came across a wonderful collecting of old family photographs, in a large old salt tin. She had obviously cherished this collection throughout her life. Much to everyone’s surprise, no one in the family had ever seen the salt tin before, and we therefore discovered that she had been an enthusiastic and prolific photographer of her family, her working life and surroundings in her earlier years.

Hettie, and my Grandfather John, had run the family farm, Nettle Hall, nr Thornton all their married life and had been typical farmers for most of the time, but unusually for that type of background, they had always spent a couple of weeks every year holidaying in Blackpool, as a complete change to their normal quiet way of life. The photograph collection therefore contained lots of the normal holiday snaps but also had lots of wonderful family photos of life on the farm in the 1920’s and 30’s, showing farm practices long since overtaken by progress ,such as tending to breeds of cattle no longer seen on modern farms, haymaking by hand with scythes and wooden rakes, and working the land with a team of horses.

Amongst this collection of photos was a Memorial Card to commemorate the life of John’s father Timothy Bancroft, who died in 1900 and was buried at Mount Zion Baptist Chapel at Ovenden nr Halifax.. Up until then I had never really thought much about my ancestors because as a family this was something that we never really talked about much.
It was this one item, the memorial card, which started me on my quest for family research and from it’s details we soon was able to find the long forgotten family grave at Mount Zion, which was found after several searches in a very overgrown corner of a very overgrown graveyard.

So hear goes with my Family Tree.

John Bancroft 1881-1962
My grandfather John, was born 5th March 1881 at Intake Farm, Manywells between Denholme and Cullingworth. He was the son of Timothy and Jane and the youngest of three children. By 1891 the family, had moved to Nettle Hall Farm nr Thornton, Bradford to a bigger farm of about 30 acres, and there he lived with his brother Greenwood Bancroft, two bachelor men on their own, after the death of his parents in 1900 and 1905. His sister, Sarah Hannah, having married another farmer, Edgar Drake, and moved away to another farm in the area.
The two bachelors lived in quite isolation till along came Hettie Watson, a farmer’s daughter from the adjoining farm, Black Carr, and they were married on 23rd September 1911 at St Peter’s, Bradford Cathedral . There was no honeymoon period in those days if you were a farmer with “beast to tend to” so John and Hettie only little treat to celebrate their marriage day, was a ride around Manningham Park ,Bradford in a horse drawn carriage. I can remember my grandmother telling me about the difficulties she had with her parents when she told them she was marrying “John from yonder farm” , as her parents were against the match for some reason which she never elaborated on. Anyway the marriage went ahead and the rift between Hettie and her parents must have been healed because many of the later family photographs show the whole family on holiday together at Blackpool, all dressed up in the “Sunday best” having great times on the beach.
John and Hettie spent all their working life at Nettle Hall Farm until John’s retirement from farming in the 1950’s, when they moved to New Royd Cottage nearby, where John died in 1962.
John was a keen motorist in the 1920’s and only the second person in Thornton area to buy a motor car in the village, a “Bull Nosed” Morris in about 1925. The first person in the village with a car being the local doctor.
Hettie’s father and mother , Lister and Jane Watson had an interesting background. They came to Black Carr Farm, near Thornton from a farm in the village of Wycoller, just over the Yorkshire/Lancashire border near Colne.
Wycoller is today a popular Country Park managed by the local authority, but at the turn of the century it was a very small isolated village, made up of a small tenant farms. The village itself is set in a deep valley with a stream running through it, and about this time it was decided by the local authority that a bigger water supply was required for the fast expanding Lancashire cotton towns in the area. It was therefore decided that the valley would be a good place to build a reservoir, which meant the village would have to be flooded. All the tenants were therefore served with noticed to quit, which is how Hettie’s family ended up looking for a new tenant farm, and settled at Black Carr.
After all tenants had been evicted, it was then found at the last minute that the valley had a bad geological fault thereby making it unsuitable for flooding, so the village then stood empty and derelict until the early 1970’s when the local council finally decided to turn it into a country park for the enjoyment of the local population.

Timothy Bancroft 1841-1900
Timothy was born 5th March 1841 at Warley, near Halifax and baptised at Haworth Parish Church on 13th November 1842 by the famous local minister Reverend Patrick Bronte. His parents, Timothy and Sarah seem to have not bothered registering the birth, even though this was a legal requirement after 1837.
It is not clear why Timothy was born in Warley , or Luddenden Foot as listed on some census records, and yet baptised in Haworth twelve months later, but it seems likely that his father was moving around with work, and moved back to the Haworth/ Keighley area shortly after Timothy’s birth.
His first listing in the local census records as head of household was in 1871 at Dole Farm, Back Denholme, and is listed as a Farmer with wife Jane, widowed mother Sarah, and unmarried brother Michael.
Previously he had been described as a “Delver” when listed in the 1861 census, working for his father, together with his four other brothers.
It is not known when the family moved into Dole Farm which consisted of about 21 acres, but it must have been between 1861, when the farm was listed as uninhabited on the census, and 1869 when Timothy’s father ,Timothy, died at the farm.
He had married Jane Greenwood at Bradford Parish Church on 25th July 1870.

The Marriage certificate shows Jane, as having to put a mark where the signature would normally be, which points to the fact that she must have been unable to read or write. Timothy was able to sign his name. It seems clear that Timothy never strayed far in his early life because his future wife, Jane, was the daughter of John and Hannah Greenwood who lived at the adjoining farm at Bradshaw Head, between Far Oxenhope and Denholme.
Shortly after the marriage Jane had their first child, Fred, but he died in infancy and was buried at Horkinstone Baptist Chapel, Far Oxenhope on 14th November 1971, in a grave next to Jane’s parents grave.
By 1881 Timothy had moved with his wife and three children. Greenwood b1875, Sarah Hannah b 1878 and John to Intake Farm, Manywells, Cullingworth. It must have been very difficult to sustain a living for him and his family at Intake Farm as it consisted of only thirteen and a half acres which is probably why the family moved again before 1891 to take on the tenancy at Nettle Hall Farm, Thornton, a larger farm of 30 acres.
Timothy continued to live at Nettle Hall until his death on 5th May 1900.
It is unclear as to why he was buried at the Mount Zion Chapel at Ovenden, as this is some distance from the home.It is known that the undertaker they used, resided in the village of Bradshaw , half way between Nettle Hall and the chapel, so this is the most likely reason.
His wife Jane, and later son Greenwood were also buried in the same family grave at Ovenden.
His son Greenwood, died from acute appendicitis because the condition went undetected, as it later came to light that his appendix were on the wrong side of his body to normal, thus causing the condition to go undiagnosed until it was too late.

Timothy’s wife, Jane, was actually born in the Wadsworth area of Halifax., and on the 1851 census is listed as living at Lane Bottom, Bradshaw Head, as a Worsted Factory Hand, with her parents John [born circa 1807] and Hannah [born circa 1803] Greenwood, and their other children William and Alice. Her father, John is listed as coming from Wadsworth and was a Farmer of 18 acres at Bradshaw Head. The family , like many others in the area probably migrated from the Wadsworth/ Heptonstall area using the old moor road via Crimsworth Dene, in an effort to find work or to rent a farm with enough land to support a family. Both of Jane’s parents were buried at Horkinstone Baptist Chapel, which is just down the road from where they lived at Bradshaw Head.


Timothy Bancroft 1802-1869

Timothy was born on 24/5/1802 at Hoyle House, Keighley Parish, which is actually a small row of farm cottages in the village of Oakworth.
He was baptised at Haworth Church on 26/7/1802. The baptism entry for Timothy and most of his siblings is stated as “Hole House” probably because the Minister wrote down the address as it had been spoken to him, and as old Yorkshire dialect always expressed Hoyle as Hole, he must have mistakenly thought that this is what the parents meant, when in fact they did mean Hoyle!
[I spent many long hours looking for Hole House without success, until I did in fact find it correctly listed as Holye House for one of the other children’s baptism. I then realised that I had been living no more than half a mile from the place I had been searching for years!]
He worked his early life as a Woolcomber, probably working for home, as was the normal place of work at the time.
He lived at Hight, near Harden in his early days, with his Father Joseph an brother Mathew and married Sarah Binns from Barcroft ,near Crossroads, in the Bingley Parish at Bingley Church on 26/12/1829.
Neither Timothy or Sarah could read or write, both having to mark their marriage record with a cross instead of being able to sign it.
He had been working in at Luddenden Foot , which is in Warley area of Halifax, when his son Timothy was born in 1841, but moved back to the local area by the time of Timothy’s baptism at Haworth one year later.
When his next son, Michael was born in 1845, the family were living at Spring Row, Wilsden, and Timothy was by then listed as a Delver.
It Is likely that he had moved away from the area, looking for different work because the woolcombing work was starting to no longer be a cottage industry done by hand in the home, to a job being done on machines in the new Mills springing up in the area.
By 1851 the census in that year lists him as living somewhere on Cullingworth Moor, and he is listed as a “Stone Getter”. The rest of the family appear from the census information to include wife Sarah, and his 3 eldest sons, John b 1833, Mathew b 1835 and Joseph b 1839 who are also listed as stone getters. There were also sons Timothy, listed as working in a worsted factory, and youngest son Michael, listed as a scholar.
He had moved to New Spring House [now called Field Head Farm] by 1861 where he had progressed to being a Quarry Contractor employing 6 men.
He changed jobs again in the 1860’s and became a farmer, moving to Dole Farm [now called Springfield Farm] on trough lane between Oxenhope and Denholme, and died there on11/4/1869.
The death certificate lists him as having died of “the dropsy”.
He was buried at St John’s Church , Cullingworth on 15/4/1869.
No grave stone exists, but the plot number was 11D.

After his death, Sarah lived the rest of her life at Lodgefield, in Cullingworth and died 18/6/1877.
She was also buried in the same grave as her husband at St John’s.


Joseph Bancroft 1755-1838
Joseph was baptised 31/5/1755 at Haworth Church and is listed as being from Far Oxenhope on the parish record.
He married twice, first to Judith Smith, in 1784 at Bradford church and at which time he was living at Leeming, Far Oxenhope, where their first four sons, William b1784, Abraham b 1785, Joseph b 1787 and Jabez b 1789 were then all born.
He was a weaver by trade, probably working at home with a handloom, as was a common occupation in the area at this time, and possible did a little farming to help sustain his family.

Shortly after the his four son, Jabez, was born in 1789, his wife Judith died at Far Oxenhope of what is described of “ the gripes”when only 35 years old.

He married again on 13/101794 to Ellen Bradley, known as Nelly [daughter of John Bradley], at Haworth church.
Both are listed “of this parish” and both left there marked cross on the parish register, being unable to read or write.

They then moved away from Oxenhope to Hoyle House [listed as Hole House in most of the parish records[, which is in the village of Oakworth in the Keighley parish, where they had eight sons and three daughters, to add to Joseph’s four sons by his first marriage.
The children were Grace b1797, Jonas b 1797 d 1801, Betty b/d 1799, Mary b 1802, Timothy b 1802, John b 1803, Michael b 1805, George b 1810, Isaac b 1812, Mathew b 1808, Benjamin b 1814.

In 1803, Britain declared war on France, and as there was the threat of invasion by Napoleon, it was felt necessary by the government to prepare the active male population between 17-55 years of age for military training. All 1118 males from the Keighley area were therefore listed by name and occupation but without an address on The “Craven Muster Roll” , and Joseph although by then 48 years old but still liable for service, is listed there as a weaver.

By 1814, when their youngest son Benjamin was born, the family had moved again just a small distance over the River Worth to Greenwood Vale, which is in the Bingley Parish.

Ellen [Nelly] died in 1828 aged 58 years, and Joseph died 10/4/1838 at the home of his son Mathew at Harden Hights.. His death certificate lists him as a weaver of 83 and three quarter years old, and the cause of death is listed as “old age”!!

Both were buried at Haworth Church by Rev Patrick Bronte, but there are no gravestones to commemorate this.


Joseph Bankcroft ?-1785

Nothing is known about Joseph’s birth detail and no baptism record has been confirmed. It may well be that the original parish records have been lost, or alternatively it may be that he was never baptised for some reason, such as illegitimacy etc.
There is a record of a “Jo”, son of Timothy from Warley [near Halifax] baptised in April 1710.
There are also entries of a Joseph of Nothurum [sic Northowram near Halifax], using Thornton Church to baptise his children in the 1720’s and bury his wife, Mary. This Joseph is described as a Weaver, living in nearby Denholme, and could be the father of the above Joseph, although there is no record locally of a Joseph having a son with the same name.
Joseph [d1785] had 3 sons, John, Joseph and Timothy and is most likely to have been a weaver by trade, as most people living in the Far Oxenhope area at that time, were involved in this cottage industry.
Manorial records taken on 11th August 1777 have an entry listing Joseph as living at Far Oxenhope as a cottage tenant of a John Jowett.

His wife, Grace, who he married at Bradford Church on 10/2/1751, was listed as coming from Thornton on the parish records. She died at the age of 64 years of what was described at the time as “the decline”.

Joseph was buried at Haworth Church on 28/7/1785. There is no gravestone to commemorate the spot where he and his wife are buried.
It is noticed from the Haworth parish burial record that the name is spelt with a “K”. This may be a mistake by the minister, entering the details at that time, or it could also be the correct spelling at that time. There are other BanKcrofts listed in the Halifax area, around this time, which may be a clue to where this line of the family originated from.
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