Robert Wrigley (ca 1697 – 1773)


   1. His childhood

Robert Wrigley was the youngest of the two sons of John Wrigley (1648 – 1727) and Anna NN (1658 – ?). He was born in ca 1697 in the ancient hamlet of Midgreave near Saddleworth, West Riding, Yorkshire (now within Greater Manchester). The hamlet was subsequently over time absorbed into the village of Delph.1-8   2. His wife

Robert and his wife, Mary Thorpe (≈5 June 1703, Huddersfield – ?) were married on 19 March 1737 in St Chad’s Anglican Church at Saddleworth. She was the daughter of Joseph Thorpe. Together Robert and Mary had six children.1-5,9

   3. His career

While in his late thirties, Robert still lived in Midgreave in the Saddleworth Parish area but during 1742 had moved 20 km north-east to Netherton, West Riding, Yorkshire (now West Yorkshire), which lies 5 km west of Almondbury. The reason for this move probably was that it was more profitable for him as a clothier to do so.1,2,4,5,7 Although Saddleworth was a thriving cotton manufacturing town, so was Almondbury. From the Middle Ages onward, Almondbury developed into a major centre for the woollen industry. A weekly market was allowed from 1294 by a grant to Henry Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, who was Lord of the manor as part of his great Honour of Pontefract. Clothiers brought their cloth to the market from as far as Saddleworth across the moor and household weavers would buy their weight of wool and carry it home to produce their next batch of cloth.4,10In 1728 Robert Wrigley inherit a Midgreave tenement from the estate of his father, who had passed away in 1727. While it is known that Robert resided in Midgreave, and then in Netherton, it is not known whether he also resided for some time in South Crosland, a village approximately 7 km south-west of Almondbury, because at some point he held the position of Overseer of the Poor in the South Crosland area.1,4,10

The Office of the Overseer of the Poor came into existence as a result of the Poor Law Act of 1597. The Poor Relief Act of 1601 (or ‘Elizabethan Poor Law’) established the parish (local church of a village or town) as the basic unit for distributing poor relief. Poor relief was administered by the parish vestry, which was a committee consisting of the church minister, church wardens and prominent local householders (property owners). Two officials, known as the Overseers of the Poor, were appointed each year by the vestry, subject to the approval of the Justice of the Peace (regional magistrate). They were responsible for collecting poor rate – a local tax used to fund poor relief – from householders, as well as for assessing the level of need among poor families and for supervising the relief distribution. These Overseers were also responsible for supervising the parish poor house, which was established to provide the poorest-of-the-poor with a roof over their head. They also assisted in finding employment where necessary. The amount of poor relief that a family was entitled to depended on the number of children, general health of the family, quality of housing, food prices and wage levels. In many cases, wages proved to be insufficient to support a family as many employers exploited the poor relief system by paying inadequate wages with their reasoning being that ‘they can save money as the church will look after their underpaid employees’. There were obviously also those lazy, allergic-to-work individuals who abused the system to provide for their basic needs. This eventually led to the reform of the Poor Law in 1834, resulting in the unpopular workhouse system.10,11

   4. His death

Robert Wrigley died at the age of 76 years on 31 March 1773 and was buried on 3 April 1773 in the churchyard of St Chad’s Anglican Church in the same grave site (plot 169) where his brother, John Wrigley (1694 – 1762) and three of his grandchildren had already been buried.1-5,9,12

   5. His children

The couple had six children. The first three were born at Midgreave and christened at St Chad’s, the Saddleworth parish church. The three youngest children of Robert and Mary Wrigley were born at Netherton, West Riding, Yorkshire (now within West Yorkshire) and were christened 2.4 km away at Honley, the Ecclesiastical Parish District to which Netherton belonged, and as recorded in the Almondbury register.1-4,9 

In 1762, all the children inherited from the estate of their wealthy uncle, John Wrigley (1694 – 1762), who died with no surviving issue. The daughters each received 200 pounds, while the eldest son, John inherited land property at Cliffe in Barkisland and at Hill End, close to Delph in the Saddleworth parish. The younger son, James inherited land at Netherton, including Netherton Hall, the house on the estate.1,2,9

5.1 John

John (≈16 July 1738 – Ω6 December 1793) was 18 years old when he married Mary Buckley on 16 August 1756 at Saddleworth. They were married by Curate John Hoginbottom of St Chad’s in the presence of Isaac Bradbury and James Wrigley.1,9,10,13,14 It is uncertain who James Wrigley was, and thus the nature of his connection to the groom and bride. The other witness, Isaac Bradbury (≈10 September 1727, Saddleworth – 1795), a clothier from Castleshaw, a hamlet near Saddleworth, was married to Alice Wrigley (≈20 October 1728, Saddleworth – 1809), daughter of Sarah Radcliffe (1701 – 1744) and John Wrigley (≈27 October 1695, Saddleworth – 6 August 1762, Saddleworth), a clothier. Apparently John Wrigley was a descendant of the Wrigleys at Old Tame.5,15,16 Perhaps the relationship between the Wrigleys of Midgreave and the Wrigleys of Old Tame is closer than what is currently believed?As a young man, John Wrigley initially resided in Netherton where he worked as a clothier – probably together with his father. After 1762 but before 1765, when John was in his mid twenties, he moved with his own family to the village of Delph, which lies approximately 20 km west of Netherton. This move was most likely related to the inheritance he received in 1762 from his late uncle John Wrigley (1694 – 1762). In Delph, he continued to work as a clothier, but by 1769 had became an innkeeper and victualler, with a license to sell alcohol. Mary and John Wrigley had seven children of whom only four seemingly reached adulthood: Robert (≈1 December 1758, †10 July 1760, ΩSt Chad’s), Benjamin (≈31 May 1761, †10 July 1762, Ω13 July 1762, St Chad’s), John (≈2 June 1763 – ?), Anna (≈20 April 1765 – ?), Sarah (≈16 November 1767, †3 January 1768, Ω6 January 1768, St Chad’s) and Robert (≈13 February 1769, St Chad’s, †30 July 1818, Delph, ΩSt Chad’s).1-5,9,12,13,17-20

5.2 Anna

Anna (≈14 September 1740 – ?) went on to marry Josiah Lawton (1740 – 1827) on 21 July 1760 at St Chad’s, Saddleworth. Josiah was the son of Jonathan Lawton (1701 – 1771) and Ann Buckley (1702 – 1789). Josiah had eleven siblings.1-5,9,21

5.3 Mary

Mary (*1742, ≈22 January 1743, †18 May 1811, Lydgate, Yorkshire) was married on 22 August 1763 at Saddleworth to Miles Mayall (1737 – 2 February 1819, Saddleworth), who had eleven brothers and sisters. Miles was the fifth child of Robert Mayall (1707 – 1788) and Mary Greave (1706 – 1804).1,5,22,23

Miles and Mary Mayall had ten children, called Betty (1765 – ?), Mally (1767 – 1821), John (1770 – 1834), Mary (1771 – ?), Robert (ca 1775 – ?), Job (1778 – 1838), Samson (1779 – 1860), Hannah (1781 – 1846), Sally (1783 – ?) and Nanny (1789 – 1790).22,23

5.4 Sarah

Very little is known about Sarah. She was christened on 5 May 1745, and later married James Brooks.1,5

5.5 James

James (1748 – 1809)1-5,9 and his wife Elizabeth Kenworthy became my husband’s great-great-great-great-great-grandparents.  READ MORE on James Wrigley.

5.6 Martha

The youngest child, Martha was christened on 6 May 1750.1-5,9 No more information on Martha’s life could be found at this point.



REFERENCE 15: James Wrigley of Devon, England is a keen researcher of our Wrigley ancestors within the parish of Saddleworth. He regularly and most kindly shares his findings with me, which I eagerly incorporate onto this website. Thank you so much, James!


  1. Hurndall, R. 1933 History of the Wrigley family of Netherton, Yorkshire. Copy made available in July 2018 by James Wrigley of Totnes, Devon, England.
  2. Family notes by Jean Jamison, made available by Katie Taylor in Germany, October 2017
  3. The Wrigley Family. 1999 Copy of family notes made available in April 2019 by Simon Wrigley of Tel Aviv, Israel
  4. The Wrigleys of South Crosland. Wrigleys of South Crosland
  5. Barrow, N. 2020 In search of the early Wrigleys. Saddleworth Historical Society Bulletin, Vol 50 (1)
  6. Saddleworth.
  7. Yorkshire.
  8. Delph.
  9. Wrigley, M. 1936 History of Netheron and the Wrigleys, 1633 – 1936. Copy made available by James Wrigley of Totnes, Devon, England
  10. Muir, M. 2002 The Wrigley family of Netherton in Yorkshire. Research notes in possession of Tony Jamison, Randfontein, South Africa
  11. Act for the Relief of the Poor 1601.
  12. St Chad’s Church, Saddleworth. Monumental Inscriptions in the Old Churchyard. 2015 Saddleworth Historical Society. 1st Ed. Edited by Mike Buckley
  13. Information received on 8 November 2020 from Richard Lyne of Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England
  14. Marriage of John Wrigley and Mary Buckley. Baptisms, marriages and burials; 1612-1619, 1632- 1635, 1659, 1673-1700, 1722-1799. Includes Friarmere from 1769-1787 and Dobcross from 1787-1788. Bishop’s transcripts for Saddleworth.
  15. John Wrigley (1695 – 1762).
  16. Sarah Radcliffe (1701 – 1744).
  17. Information received on 23 October 2020 from James Wrigley of Totnes, Devon, England
  18. Christening of Robert Wrigley (1758 – 1760), Anna (1765 – ?) and Sarah (1767 – 1768). Baptisms, marriages and burials; 1612-1619, 1632- 1635, 1659, 1673-1700, 1722-1799. Includes Friarmere from 1769-1787 and Dobcross from 1787-1788. Bishop’s transcripts for Saddleworth.
  19. Burial records of Robert Wrigley (1758 – 1760), Benjamin Wrigley (1761 – 1762), John Wrigley (1694 – 1762) and Sarah (1767 – 1768). Baptisms, marriages and burials; 1612-1619, 1632- 1635, 1659, 1673-1700, 1722-1799. Includes Friarmere from 1769-1787 and Dobcross from 1787-1788. Bishop’s transcripts for Saddleworth.
  20. Christening of Robert Wrigley (1769 – 1818). England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975.
  21. James Lawton (1726 – ?).
  22. Miles Mayall (1737 – 1819).
  23. Mary Wrigley (1741 – 1811).