The Heckmondwike Family

The earliest TATTERSFIELD mentioned in the Registers of Upper Chapel, Heckmondwike, was called JOSEPH. It is believed he was baptised in Dewsbury Parish Church on 30th August 1747, and he married Sarah Carr in Dewsbury on 7th October 1768.

Their first child, also SARAH, was baptised in Dewsbury Parish Church on 16th May, 1769. As mentioned above, they then disappeared from the Dewsbury record.

Part of Heckmondwike Upper Chapel, built 1858
Part of Heckmondwike Upper Chapel, built 1890

However, a child called AMOS was baptised in Upper Chapel (Independent) in Heckmondwike on 22nd September, 1789, with parents JOSEPH TATTERSFIELD and Sarah. The baptism of MOSES followed in 1791. Though more direct information would be welcome, there is a good deal of circumstantial evidence that these were the last two of ten children of the JOSEPH and Sarah who married in Dewsbury. JOSEPH and Sarah themselves died in Heckmondwike and were buried in the Upper Chapel graveyard in 1795 and 1819 respectively. Until a few years ago, their gravestone and its inscription were in place.

The two existing Upper Chapel buildings date from about 1858 (left above) and 1890 (right above). Descendants of JOSEPH and Sarah were directly involved in the construction of these chapels and in worshiping in them.

Three Tattersfield headstones in Upper Chapel graveyard

Sadly, the older part of the Upper Chapel graveyard was exhumed a few years ago to make the area into a car park. The graves of JOSEPH and Sarah and many of their direct descendants were exhumed, the remains taken to the crematorium, and the gravestones taken away. Fortunately, before this desecration occurred, all of the monumental inscriptions had been recorded in 1980 by Dr Louis Ackroyd, one of whose ancestors was a TATTERSFIELD. The inscriptions of the TATTERSFIELD family headstones had been independently recorded by myself. Dr Ackroyd’s comprehensive list is lodged at the Society of Genealogists and elsewhere. The photograph to the right shows three typical TATTERSFIELD tombstones in the newer part of the graveyard, which has not been disturbed.

I initially plotted the descendants of JOSEPH and Sarah manually on to separate family trees for convenience of size as follows:

CHART 1Sons of JOSEPH and Sarah called JOHN (1784-1856), WILLIAM (1785-1856) and MOSES (1791-1857) and their descendants.
CHART 2Eldest son of JOSEPH and Sarah, called JOSEPH (1779-1851) and his descendants.
CHART 3Youngest son of the JOSEPH in CHART 2, called GEORGE (1816-1887 – my great great grandfather) and his descendants.
CHART 4The daughters of JOSEPH and Sarah, whose married names were Sarah Carr, Hannah Scatcherd, Patience Oddy, Nancy Taylor and Betty Day, and some of their descendants.

CHART 2 and CHART 3 were later amalgamated into CHART 2,3.

JOSEPH (1747-95) was a clothier. Most of his descendants were clothiers, blanket or cloth manufacturers or similar for many generations. Many branches of the TATTERSFIELD family remained in the woollen industry down to recent times.

JOSEPH’s was the first recorded will of a TATTERSFIELD. His assets were certified not to exceed £300.00. This suggests his trade as a clothier brought him a reasonable degree of affluence. He lived at The Heights, at the top of Kilpin Hill, Heckmondwike.

The next generation lived at a time when woollen weaving was transformed from a cottage to a factory industry. The sons of JOSEPH were employers of men and women, typically 30 to 40 in number, as shown in the 1851 census. They were clearly very wealthy, in some cases lived in very large houses, and were pillars of Upper Chapel where some 150 of their descendants, husbands or wives have been buried.

JEREMIAH TATTERSFIELD (1812-96), blanket manufacturer, grandson of JOSEPH (1747-95)

As an example, JEREMIAH TATTERSFIELD, whose photograph is shown to the left, and who was a grandson of JOSEPH (1747-95), lived at a large stone house called ‘The Hollins’, off Kilpin Hill. The house is now sub-divided as residences, but was in use for many years as a working mens’ club. This may give some idea of the size of the establishment. The photograph was kindly loaned by Mrs Ann Irwin, a great granddaughter of JEREMIAH.

At various times members of the family emigrated. The brothers JAMES WALKER TATTERSFIELD (1877-1970) and CLIFFORD TATTERSFIELD (born 1879), shown on CHART 2,3 went to New Zealand and established a mattress factory in Auckland. The TATTERSFIELD brand name is still in use.

ROBERT TATTERSFIELD (1854-1905), shown on CHART 2,3 took his family to Canada in about 1903. He died soon afterwards, whereupon his widow shortened her surname to FIELD. Family tradition suggests that she had “married above her station” and had not been well received by some of the TATTERSFIELD family! The descendants are still living in the Calgary area.

ROBERT’s older brother JEREMIAH (born 1844), shown on CHART 2,3 married Alma Monthan, who was from Stockholm, Sweden. They had five sons, born in the Dewsbury area, all of whom had Monthan as their middle name. They emigrated to Canada, then to the United States, and eventually to Arizona. The Davis Monthan Air Base is named after one of the sons, OSCAR, who was an aviator in World War I. He died in a bomber crash in Honolulu in 1924.

On CHART 2,3 two brothers JAMES WALKER TATTERSFIELD (born 1851, not to be confused with the JAMES WALKER who went to New Zealand) and PERCIVAL (1860-1925) founded Tattersfield & Company in Philadelphia. They were later joined in the business by their nephews GEORGE ARTHUR (1873-1936) and JOSEPH STANLEY (1876-1944). Many descendants still live in the Philadelphia area, including the West family. Descendants of JAMES WALKER TATTERSFIELD are now living in Mexico.

A word of caution! The widely-used International Genealogical Index (IGI) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints contains many inaccuracies concerning the early Heckmondwike family. Some entries are clearly duplicates and even triplicates and show dates that are incorrect by anything from a few days to a few years, with no discernible pattern.

Header Image: The Italianate architecture and portico of the Heckmondwike-Upper Chapel Congregational Church. It was in this church that a large number of the Tattersfields worshiped, and from the records thereof we have learned a great deal about the Heckmondwike Branch of the family.