Origins in Staffordshire

The Kelsall family in Buckley originates from Richard Kelsall who was born in 1713 in Audley, Staffordshire and buried at Hawarden Parish Church in Flintshire on February 14, 1780. Richard married Mary Birks at Newcastle under Lyme January 19, 1734. Richard and Mary were my (Peter Kelsall’s) 5x great grandparents.

Mary Birks was born in Newcastle under Lyme and died in 1791 in Pentrobin, Buckley. I have not been able to determine Mary’s parents with certainty. Mary was probably the daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth Birks, christened at Newcastle, 31 March 1720 (which would indicate Mary was 14 when she married Richard who was 21).

Richard and Mary had 11 children, Richard, William, Mary, John, Joseph, George, Nancy, Sarah, Hannah, Ann and Robert born between 1736 and 1762. The first 7 children up to and including Nancy in 1750 were apparently born in Audley, and the last three in Mold Parish, Flintshire, probably in Bistre in present-day Buckley. The Mold Parish registers list three Kelsall baptisms from the period, all with father and mother Richard and Mary: Hannah baptised May 19, 1755; Robert, July 1, 1758; and Sarah, April 25, 1762. This would mean that the family must have moved between 1750 and 1755. As reported by Hawkes in The Astbury Family of Hawarden Parish and of Galchog Hall, Buckley Magazine, 1994), in 1758 Richard Kelsall was occupying land “by Sandycroft” at Burntwood in Buckley.

The Kelsall family in Audley were relatively prosperous owning land and large houses at Halmerend and especially Hall o’ Wood, a splendid Elizabethan manor house which has been restored and still stands near Balterley about 2 miles west of Audley near the A52 Audley to Nantwich road. It seems that they moved to Buckley to be involved with the developing coal industry. Within a generation the Kelsall men were humble colliers working in the mines. We will likely never know if the loss of fortune occurred before the move to Buckley and was the reason for the move, or after the move and was the result of speculation that failed.

Coal Mining History

It is evident that the Kelsall family moved to Buckley to engage in the expanding coal industry. In this regard, they were part of a great influx of both colliers and potters into Hawarden parish from the Staffordshire coalfield and Potteries that took place in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Coal mining had been practiced in the Ewloe area since the 1500s or earlier but in shallow working such as bell pits. The later development has been traced by K. Lloyd Gruffydd in The Development of the Coal Industry in Flintshire to 1740 (M.A. Thesis, University of Wales, 1981). Six pits were working on the Hawarden estate in 1739 but were evidently in poor condition which “no doubt influenced the Glynnes to lease some mineral rights to a Chester business man in 1749 and become partners with two Salopian gentlemen in 1750”. Examples of Staffordshire men involved were George Salt of Betley who was granted a lease to dig for coal in Ewloe Wood in about 1730 and George Sparrow, a Staffordshire ironmaster who leased Lloyd’s Hills in 1707.

Lloyd’s Hills, later to be known as Sandycroft, was located in Drury north of Drury Lane and west of Burntwood Road (map). The 1880s OS map shows a shaft location about 200 ft NW of the intersection of Drury Lane and Burntwood Road adjacent to the Hills Field shown on a 1839 tithe map (reproduced by Hawkes). Hawkes states that Sandycroft was located between Woods Field and the Hills Field which would place it northwest of the noted shaft location in the area occupied by the Parrot Tavern in 1839. The present-day row of houses known as Lloyds Hills is located a few hundred feet to the north along Burntwood Road.

1870’s Map of Burntwood and Drury Showing Old Shaft in the Area of Lloyd’s Hills

Present-day Burntwood and Drury

In 1758 Richard Kelsall was occupying land “by Sandycroft” in Burntwood leased by John Lloyd (from the 1758 tax assessment of the Glynne estate as reported by Hawkes). And from George Kelsall’s legal petition concerning the Hall o’ Wood property near Audley we know that Richard’s daughters, Hannah and Sarah, were “living on the Burnwood royalty” in 1833.

Hawkes provides additional history of mining in Burntwood. Walter Stubbs of Shropshire obtained the lease of the colliery at Lloyd’s Hills, later to be known as Sandycroft, sometime before 1753. In 1750 he obtained a lease from Sir John Glynne. Lord of the Manor of Hawarden, for mines and coals in the townships of Pentrobin and Bannel. Stubbs’ collieries at Mancot and Sandycroft were managed by George Berks, described as a Staffordshire man. In 1751, he obtained a lease from Sir John Glynne to lay a tramway from pits in Pentrobin and Bannel, and from a colliery he was working in Ewloe called Cape Britton. Sir John Glynne became a partner at Sandycroft in 1760. Sandycroft produced its first coals in 1753, just 5 tons, and by the end of 1756, production had risen to 6,517 tons. In 1756, six pits were in operation, Sandycroft New Main Coal Pit, Berks’ Old Engine Pit, the Old Engine by Foxes, the Middle Pit, the Rise Pit and the Deep Pit. In Willett’s (1822) account, “The Sandycroft Colliery was now carried on to a considerable extent under the agency of Mr. George Berks, a Staffordshire gentleman, introduced here by Mr. Stubbs….In 1777 Sir John died, his share being left to his daughters. Mrs. Crewe’s portion was purchased by Mr. Berks, and the colliery was continued by Messrs Stubbs, Berks, etc. til the expiration of the lease, about 1790”.

Birks Family

As noted above, George Berks was the manager of the Sandycroft Colliery. George was the brother of Mary Birks. George Birks died 10 February 1795 aged 78 and was buried at Bistre on the 16th February. His will identifies his wife as Mary, and that she was the widow of John Wright. From various documents, we know of two other brothers, Robert and Joseph. Joseph may be the Joseph Birks, master firebrick maker, buried 6 October 1801, St, Deiniol’s Hawarden, aged 78. Another family member (not documented as a brother) may have been John Birks, senior, a “brickmaker of Pentrobin” who died in February 1805 aged 87.

Fred Birks, a 4xgreat grandson of John Birks (died 1805) won a Victoria Cross in WW1. Fred went to Australia in 1914 and enlisted in the 1st Australian Division within a fortnight of war being declared on August 4th, 1914. Fred served at Gallipoli in 1915 and was wounded. He was awarded the Military Medal at Pozieres, France in 1916 and by April 1917 he had been promoted as a subaltern (2nd lieutenant) with the 6th Australian Infantry. Fred was killed at the Third Battle of Ypres on September 21, 1917 and was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his role in rushing a German pillbox. Fred is buried at the North Perth Cemetery, China Wall, Zillebeke, Belgium. His decorations are held at the Australian War Memorial’s Hall of Valour, Canberra. His story is told here and in a commemorative booklet published by the Buckley Society.

Richard Kelsall and Mary Birks

Richard and Mary had 11 children from 1736 to 1762 including:

  • Richard (1736 – 1764) married Sarah Shore in Madeley Staffordshire in 1755. Their son Thomas married Sarah Edwards in Stoke and gave rise to many descendants in Staffordshire. Another son George had a daughter Ann who married John Lamb in 1806. Their son, Thomas Kelsall Lamb had a son, another Thomas Kelsall Lamb who moved to Australia and has present days descendants in Queensland who have retained Kelsall as a middle name. Both Richard and brother John are listed as colliers in the Neston registers. From the locations of baptisms we can say that Richard and Sarah moved to Neston between March 1758 and August 1760. This coincides with the opening of coal mines in Neston in 1759.
  • William (1738 – 1799) buried 23 January 1799 at Hawarden without issue.
  • Mary (1740 – 1788) died in Hawarden Parish without issue.
  • John (1743 – 1796) married Mary Webster in Neston, Cheshire and had at least six children born in Neston. .
  • Joseph (1746 -1819) married Sarah Mountford in 1772 and has many descendants originating in Hanley.
  • George (1748 – 1811) died in Hawarden Parish without issue.
  • Hannah (1755 – 1841) married Joseph Peters and was living on the “Burnwood royalty” in 1833.
  • Robert (1758 – 1828) was the author’s 4 times great grandfather and is described below.
  • Sarah (1762 – 1847) married Thomas Hooler (or Hulley) and was also living on the “Burnwood royalty” in 1833 as Sarah Dickinson). She was alive age 80 in the 1841 census living in Burntwood with Thomas Hulley and family, listed as a pauper; she died in 1847.

Robert Kelsall and Mary Jones

Robert Kelsall was baptised at Bistre July 1, 1758 and was buried 1 January 1828. He is described in the Hawarden registers as a machine man collier. He married Mary Jones in 1784. Mary was born in Hawarden parish in about 1765 and was still alive at the time of the 1851 census aged 86. She died 1 January 1852 of “decay of nature” age 89.

The Hawarden registers and census records suggest as many as 12 children for Robert and Mary, including:

  • Joseph (1791) was the author’s 3 times great grandfather and is described below.
  • John (1793) married Sarah Powell
  • Mary (1794) married a grocer, George Aston and was living next to the Blue Bell in Lane End, Buckley in 1861. The Astons were later innkeepers at the Blue Bell and opened a butcher’s shop that is there to this day.
  • Thomas (1801) married Ann Lewis and was publican of the Blue Bell Inn in 1856
  • Ann (1803) married William Shepherd (as reported by Brian Hodnett in The Story of William Shepherd, Coal and Brick Proprietor, Buckley Magazine).

Joseph Kelsall and Esther Thornton

Joseph Kelsall was born in about 1791 in Buckley. He was a coal miner as listed in the 1851 census living on Bannel Lane. He died in 1863. Joseph married Esther Thornton at St. Deiniol’s, Hawarden on December 24, 1812. Esther was baptized May 13, 1790 at St. Deiniol’s, Hawarden and was the daughter of Robert Thornton and Margaret Read.

There are 7 known children of Joseph and Esther, including:

  • Mary married William Dunn and lived on the Wirral.
  • Ann married Edward Jones and lived in Burntwood.
  • Joseph (1823) was the author’s 2 times great grandfather and is described below.
  • Hannah (abt. 1825) married James Wright 21 June 1848 in Chester and lived in Lane End Buckley. They had 7 known sons: Thomas, William, James, John, Joseph Henry, Alfred and Edward. Edward married Ada Louise Webster and had two sons Frank Edward and Reginald Mafeking. Frank’s granddaughter is Elizabeth Rule (Burston), Peter Kelsall’s 4th cousin.
  • John married Sarah Jones in 1851. Two sons, Joseph and John emigrated to America and have descendants in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. Another son William lived in Spon Green until 1929, and a son Thomas lived in Monks Coppenhall and later Nantwich. Daughter Emma married Edward Peters and Hannah married Edward Wainwright.
  • Sarah married John Ellis and lived on Knowle Lane.

Joseph Kelsall and Mary Fennah

Joseph Kelsall was born in 1823. He was a coal miner and the first Kelsall to live on Buckley Mountain at a location off Alltami Road that became known as Kelsall’s Mountain. He died in 1901 in Buckley, age 78. Joseph married Mary Fennah in March 1844. Mary died in 1879 age 52.

Joseph and Mary had 10 known children:

  • Hannah married Joseph Shepherd and lived in Brunswick Road.
  • Sarah married John Peers and lived in Mollington.
  • Elizabeth died in 1873 aged 18 and has a surviving headstone at the old St. John’s Congregational church.
  • Mary married John Ellis and lived in Drury.
  • Joseph (1857) was the author’s great grandfather and is described below.
  • Charles married Elizabeth Beckett. Their son Charles owned a draper’s shop on Brunswick Road in Buckley into the 1950’s.
  • Henry married Amy Peers and moved to Hucknall, Nottinghamshire between 1898 and 1901
  • Agnes married Sykes Idle in Oldham.

Joseph Kelsall and Hannah Beckett

Joseph Kelsall was born in 1857, and died 22 January 1939 in Buckley. Joseph was a coal miner and lived first in Lane End and later on Buckley Mountain. Joseph married Hannah Beckett 24 August 1879 in Buckley. Hannah was born 15 March 1857 in Gt. Mollington, Cheshire. Her parents were Thomas Beckett and Elizabeth Maddock. Her sister, Elizabeth, married Joseph’s brother, Charles, in 1887. She died 12 August 1941 in Buckley. Another brother Henry married Amy Peers also from Mollington.

In 1941 Hannah was living in Gerrard’s Houses, Ewloe Place when the house was struck by a piece from a German bomber that crashed into a nearby field.  The old lady had been in failing health and never really recovered from the experience before her death a few weeks later.  My father, Charlie Kelsall, was away in the Army at the time, stationed at Larkhill.  He was given compassionate leave to return to see his grandmother who had been moved to the cottage on Higher Common to stay with her son, Charlie Kelsall senior. The trip home took Charlie two days. As soon as he returned he saw his grandmother who died in his arms within minutes. This was the only trip home that Charlie made during his five and a half years in the Army that included service in Burma and India.

Joseph Kelsall and Hannah Beckett

Joseph and Hannah had 8 known children, including:

  • Thomas Henry, married Martha Ann Catherall, a miner lived in Nant Mawr, children Harry, Amy, Joe, Fred, John
  • Charles (1885) was the author’s grandfather and is described below
  • Mary (Polly) married George Egerton and lived in Yorkshire
  • Annie married William Parry, sons Elvet and Frank
  • Ernest married Harriet Jones
  • Frank married Elsie Kershaw, children Ronald and Eileen

Charles, Frank, Thomas Henry Kelsall

Charles Kelsall and Margaret Evans

Charles Kelsall was born in 2 December 1885 and died 10 December 1981 just after his 96th birthday, in Maelor General Hospital, Wrexham. Charles started work at the local Catheralls brickyard when he was 10. Later, he was a miner at Gresford and the Elm, and then he worked at John Summers steel works until he was 70.  He married Margaret Evans 21 December 1907 at Emmanuel Church Bistre. Margaret Evans was born 20 February 1886 in Buckley, one of the 11 children of Jabez Evans and Eliza Parry. She died 6 February 1971 at home in Buckley. Margaret’s brother Joseph Evans died in the First World War.

Charles Kelsall and Margaret Evans

Charles and Margaret Kelsall Diamond Wedding

Charles and Margaret had three children:

  • Gwen born 2 February 1910 died 10 October 2003, married Jack Whitehead and lived in Tram Road. Jack had a small farm in Mynydd Isa, as well as working at John Summers Steelworks.
  • Joseph born 16 August 1911 died 22 March 1975, married Euronwy (Ron) Jones. They had two sons, Alan and Keith and lived at Hillside Crescent. Joe worked at Castle Firebrick as an excavator operator in the clay pit. Previously he had been a driver for one of the Castle Sentinel steam wagons and he had worked on removing the slag pit from the Buckley Mountain colliery. Joe was an exceptional amateur football player who gained a Welsh Amateur International Cap. He played for the Amateurs who used the Horse and Jockey as changing rooms and played on the field at the bottom of Knowle Lane (which is now covered by housing estates).  The best years of his football were spent at Flint Town Club for they had “six years of unrivalled success when they won every competition they entered”.  After Flint he signed for Buckley Town and became their captain.
  • Charles Kelsall is my father described below.

Joe and Ron Kelsall, Gwen and Jack Whitehead

Joe, Charles and Charlie Kelsall, Buckley Jubilee

Charles Kelsall

Charles (“Charlie”) Kelsall was born on April 15, 1921 at Higher Common Road, Buckley. He attended St. Matthews School and after passing the “11 plus exams” he went to Hawarden County School. Charlie had football in his genes. His brother Joe was an exceptional amateur player who gained a Welsh Amateur International Cap. In his mother’s family, four of the Evans brothers were very well known footballers.  Bill played for the Buckley Engineers who won the Welsh Senior Cup.  Jack won a Welsh Amateur Cup medal.  Jabez played for Tranmere and Harry was a very good defender.  Charlie himself signed semi-professional terms for Wrexham in 1939. His career was interrupted by war service but he made 41 senior team appearances before leaving for Holywell in 1952. During the war years he played against top opposing teams such as Liverpool, Everton, Manchester Utd., Manchester City, Blackburn and Stoke, and in one match played right half behind one of England’s most famous players, Stanley Matthews.

The Racecourse Robins, entry for Charlie Kelsall

Wrexham F.C. 1951 Charlie Kelsall second from right, back row

Charlie joined the Army in May 1941 and was posted to Larkhill on Salisbury Plain to a special unit of the Royal Artillery. On completion of training he was posted to Brentwood in Essex where to join the 2nd Survey Regiment which specialized in surveying, flash spotting and sound ranging whose purpose was to locate enemy gun positions either by the flash of a gun barrel or by their sound. In January 1943, they traveled down to Southampton to embark on a liner for overseas sailing to South Africa where they spent 3 months in a camp about 20 miles outside Durban.  Then they sailed to Bombay and went across India by train to Calcutta and on to Chittagong and Burma. The regiment served approximately 18 months in Burma and returned to Southern India at Coimbatore in 1945, but Charlie did not return home until 1946. He had been gone 5 years with only one trip home.

Charlie Kelsall in India

On returning home Charlie took up his old job at the Metallic Brick Works where he became manager. He was later manager at the Lane End Brickworks and he ended his working life working for British Aerospace at Broughton.

Charlie married Joan Yvonne Iredale in 1948 and they had one son, Peter born in 1949.

Charlie Kelsall married Joan Iredale. June 8, 1948 St. John’s Congregational, Buckley