John Balshaw, 1774 - 1849.


Born 1774, probably son of  John Balshaw and Ann of Ormskirk.

Baptised at Ormskirk parish church 10th April, 1774.

Married (1)

Nancy (Ann).  Few details known, but she died in 1830 aged 63, (see memorial inscription) and was therefore born about 1767.  She might have been Nancy Cocking, who married John Balshaw at St Nicholas (Pier Head), Liverpool 19th September 1792.  (c.f. his  younger brother Ralph who may have married Elizabeth Cockin in Lancaster in 1802.)

Children: John Balshaw, 1799; Ellen Balshaw, died 1798, Thomas Balshaw, 1801, (almost certainly Thomas Balshaw of Altrincham); Margaret, 1804; Charles, 1806, (probably Charles Balshaw of Altrincham); William Balshaw, 1809; Ralph Balshaw, 1811-12; Nancy (who married a Mr Bailey); Betty (who married a Mr Williams).

Married (2)

Mary Leech, 16th September 1830, in the presence of his niece Nancy Balshaw (aged 34). Mary was born about 1780 (from the details given in later census returns).  Died 13th January 1852, and buried with the Leech family.  Have copy of will.  The memorial inscription (see photo) reads:

To the memory of George Leech who died May 19th 1813 aged 66 years
Alice Silcock died February 1818 aged 77 years.
Mary Leech died 1st May 1825 aged 75 years.
Elizabeth Leech her daughter died 17th April 1827 aged 53 years.
George Leech died 28th April 1839 aged 54.
Ann Hogg died 14th September 1840 aged 37.
Mary Balshaw died 13th January 1852 aged (missing).


Joiner of Church St, Ormskirk, from the 1841 census.


Various examples of his signature.


18th January 1849. Have copy of will.

Buried at SS Peter and Paul, Ormskirk.  See memorial inscription  and see photos of Balshaw gravestones in Ormskirk.

Notes from the will of John Balshaw, 1774-1849.

John Balshaw died 18th January 1849. He left a widow called Mary (who appears on the 1851 census as a 'Landed Proprietor', aged 70, born in Ormskirk). In the first codicil he states that no sale of his real estate shall take place until after Mary's death.

It is clear that he is the John Balshaw on the 1841 census who lived in Church Street, Ormskirk, who was a joiner, and who had a wife called Mary. John Williams (age 19) and June (presumably Jane, aged 16) who were in the house that night must have been his grand-children. This information leads to an estimated date of birth of 1774, which compares well with an entry on the IGI - John Balshaw son of John and Ann Balshaw in Ormskirk, christened 10th April 1774.

His will was written 21st September 1837, with a codicil dated 30th October 1838 and a second codicil dated 9th January 1849, (nine days before his death). The total value of the estate was less than £300. Seven of his children and three of his grandchildren are named in the will:

Pages 1 and 2 are not in the same handwriting as page 3. The reason for this is not clear, but (unusually?) John Balshaw signed all three pages with the same signature, presumably to make it clear that the whole will was genuine. I assume that the first two pages were from an earlier will and did not need to be changed when he updated the will in 1837. The first codicil is also signed in the same way, but the second codicil is signed only with a shaky cross, probably indicating that he was very weak.

Witnesses on the will were: Alice Wareing, James T Wareing, Henry Brighouse. Executors on the will were Robert Wareing, Thomas Balshaw and William Balshaw. In the first codicil Robert Wareing was replaced by Charles Balshaw.

In simple terms each of the seven children (or their children in proportion) was left one seventh of the estate. No special items were mentioned in the will, but the proceeds of the will were split in different ways by the codicils, presumably accounting for various grand-children coming of age.

Implications of the evidence available.

There is nothing to confirm or deny that this Thomas Balshaw was the printer in Altrincham. However, we know that Thomas was born in Ormskirk in 1801 and that a Thomas Balshaw was born in Ormskirk in 1801 son of John and Nancy Balshaw. It seems very likely but not certain that Thomas the printer in Altrincham was the son of this John Balshaw by his first wife.

There is also nothing to confirm or deny that this Charles Balshaw was the Joiner in Altrincham, except that John left all his tools to Charles, suggesting that he was also a joiner. As above, we know that a Charles was born in Ormskirk in 1806 and that a Charles Balshaw was born in Ormskirk in 1806 son of John and Nancy Balshaw.

There are no further details about William. Peter Harrop's notes from the church registers include a William Balshaw christened in 1809, son of John and Nancy. The IGI says that William Balshaw was a son of John and Mary, but it seems likely that this is an error, as John and Nancy had a further child, Ralph, born 1811, died 1812. There is one William, a Paviour, on the 1841 census in Ormskirk, with a wife called Teresa, and children called Ann, Mary, Elizabeth and Thomas. However, he does not appear on the 1851 census notes that I have for the Ormskirk area. Two William Balshaws died in Ormskirk and one in Preston between 1841 and 1851 (actually in 1844, 1846 and 1848), but William became one of the executors in 1849 so he was still living at the time of the 1851 census, suggesting that he had moved away from Ormskirk.

It is clear that John did not know how many children his daughter-in-law Nancy would have, when the will was written, but that his son John had died already. Does this to mean that John had just died and that Nancy was expecting another child when the will was written? However, I can't understand how he could not have known how many other children there were at the time of the first codicil, one year after the will was written, and the word "amongst" suggests that there were several of them, in which case why did Elizabeth get half?  Perhaps she had children from a previous marriage.

I can find no record of the birth or marriage of Nancy and Betty. Neither is mentioned in the IGI (as Ann or Nancy, or as Betty or Elizabeth), and neither is mentioned in Peter Harrop's notes from the registers. Therefore it is not clear whether their respective mothers were Nancy or Mary, or where and when they were married. However, on the 1851 census a niece called Christiana Williams was staying with Thomas and Lucy in Altrincham, born in Surrey, aged 17.

In the will it says that his daughter Nancy's daughter Elizabeth was to be treated as the others even though she was born before Nancy's marriage to Mr Bailey. In the first codicil John states that in the event of her mother Nancy dying before him, Elizabeth is left half her share, with the other divided amongst her other children.

However, we have notes that an Ann Balshaw was buried on 3rd February 1830, aged 63 (i.e. born 1767) and if Ann and Nancy were interchangeable names she could have been John's first wife. She was 7 years older than John but this is not necessarily a problem. However, we have no record that she was the wife of John Balshaw, and surely the register would have shown her as such.

We also have notes of the marriage of John Balshaw and Mary Leech on 16th September 1830, and could speculate that this was his second marriage.


We still need further evidence to prove beyond all doubt that this John Balshaw was the father of Thomas Balshaw, the printer in Altrincham, or Charles Balshaw, the Joiner in Hale. However, it does seem very likely. Possible sources of further information:

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