This area of the site deals with the Dunkerley family. On this page is a summary of the various articles available. If you wish to read about the subject in detail, please click on the underlined words.
The map shown covers most of the places in Lancashire mentioned in these accounts, and is interactive, so you can navigate to other areas. To navigate more widely, click 'View Larger Map' .
Click on the link to take you to Rosemary Brown's invaluable site, which provides a wealth of data relating to the Parish Records from Oldham, including family trees for the earliest members of the Dunkerley family to appear.
The information below tells the story of my own Dunkerley family. It is, in essence, a journey through the development of the cotton industry of England from its first beginnings in the late sixteenth century until its demise in the twentieth century. It was for many decades Britain's greatest export earner and a fundamental component of the industrial revolution. Oldham, where the Dunkerleys lived their lives, became the world's greatest cotton spinning centre.
Dunkerley Name Origin: Looks at the possible origin of the name 'Dunkerley' and considers its relationship to the name 'Dunkley'. Spread of Early Dunkerleys: Discusses the possible connections between the names 'Dunkerley' and 'Dunkley' a little further and looks at the 'Dinkley' proposal. Then examines the earliest known occurrences of 'Dunkerley' in a geographical context. These include an area south of Nottingham, London, and Manchester. The evidence shows that the name developed particularly in and north of Manchester, eventually establishing itself most strongly in Oldham, and in a lesser way in Ashton-under-Lyne. The article considers the possibility that the Dunkerley family migrated from Manchester to Oldham along with cotton handloom weaving in the seventeenth century. The Early Dunkerleys: This examines the evidence for the appearance of cotton as weft in a linen warp to make cloth known as 'fustian' in Manchester and nearby settlements in the late sixteenth century. It then looks at the appearance of fustian weaving in Oldham, previously a wool-weaving area, and considers the role that the early Dunkerleys might have played in this. Information from the seventeenth century begins to indicate that the Dunkerley family became concentrated in a small rural area northeast of the village of Oldham. After briefly examining the nature of the area I then comment on the first known abodes in what was to become 'Dunkerley country'. From the eighteenth century information starts to become available about occupations and clearly shows that an extraordinary proportion of the population ere handloom weavers. Based on contemporary sources, the article then looks in me detail at the structure of the cotton industry during the eighteenth century and at the lifestyle of the cotton handloom weavers and their families. Ancestors of Daniel: The oldest Dunkerley ancestor I can trace with reasonable certainty is Daniel, born about 1752. Unfortunately there are several possible candidates for his father and this article discusses them and their families. Daniel - Handloom Weaver: Daniel Dunkerley was a fustian handloom weaver who lived with his wife, Alice nee Taylor, on Sholver Moor at Sholver Slack. This article discusses their lives and times - including their marriage and their family. Two children are known with certainty - John and Joseph - but there may have been others. Daniel and Alice lived during the flowering of the Enlightenment and probably saw the advent of the spinning jenny, the water frame and the 'mule' that were to revolutionise handloom weaving and lead to its 'golden age' then on to the industrial revolution. But they also perhaps noticed the first disruptions to society that followed the French Revolution of 1789.
Joseph - Patriarch: Joseph Dunkerley becomes the critical figure in the Dunkerley family of this website. There are several reasons for this. In the first place we are fortunate to know quite a lot about him and can follow parts of his life in some detail, sometimes giving us the chance to feel that we can stand in his shoes. Secondly, four of his ten children gave rise to families that continue to this day - two in the United States and two in England. Joseph was brought up as a handloom weaver at Sholver Slack but joined the militia during the Napoleonic wars. He served in eastern and southern England before being demobbed at Bristol. There he married Hannah Spencer and started his family. Next, however, during difficult economic times, the couple appear in Oldham workhouse. They eventually extricated themselves but continued to live nearby at Glodwick where Joseph became a shoemaker and night watchman at a cotton mill. Hannah died first, but Joseph lived on until 1862. Joseph and Hannah experienced the turmoil of England during times of political, social and industrial revolution. William & Sophia: William Dunkerley grew up in Glodwick, Oldham, and eventually married Sophia Barratt, a local girl. He had various jobs, including joiner, weaver, French polisher, house painter and machine painter. He died in 1869 when only 41 and left Sophia to cope with five children, three of them old enough to work, one a babe in arms. The family must have experienced difficulties, but eventually Sophia married a widower, putting together two families, probably for convenience. She died in 1889. William and Sophia lived during the time that Oldham was becoming the world's most important cotton-spinning town.
James & Emma: James Dunkerley married Emma Coop. They perhaps both worked at the Greenbank cotton mill complex in Glodwick, near to where they lived nearly all their lives. In contrast to his father, James appears to have enjoyed steady employment. He was always a cotton mill warehouseman, which might have been quite a responsible job. Like his father, howerver, he died young, aged 43 in 1898. Emma lived on until 1922, always in the same house on Lees Road in Oldham, supported by her children and other family members. James and Emma experienced the golden age of Victorian England when, finally, the working classes were beginning to see the benefits of greater productivity and declining commodity prices. Billy & Selina: Billy Dunkerley was my grandfather. When his father died Billy took over as head of the family. He was able, responsible and ambitious. He must have attended night school and he worked his way up in the cotton mills until he eventually became winding master at the prestigious new Regent ring-spinning mill in Failsworth near Oldham. There he entered local politics, becoming Chairman of Failsworth council a record four times, for which service a street was named after him ('Dunkerley Avenue'). He was also a magistrate and later became a Freemason. After the First World War the cotton industry slumped and Billy lost his job. He then found employment as a brewer's representative. He had married Selina Martin, a cotton worker from Mossley, and together they brought up five children. One of them, Lewis, died tragically in 1930. Billy and Selina became home-owners soon after that date, but Billy died at the camparatively young age of 61 in 1936. Selina lived on until 1955. Billy and Selina thus saw the culmination of the growth of the mighty Lancashire cotton industry and the start of its decline, resulting from complacency, increasing costs and loss of competitive advantage. Leslie Dunkerley: Leslie Dunkerley was my father. He was a self-reliant, hard-working man of his time. His was the first generation of the family not to work in cotton for perhaps over two hundred years. Instead he became a white-collar worker, training in administration at night school and working his way up to become a director and company secretary of St. George's Engineers in Salford. Apart from his family he had three passions in life - Scouting, rugby and Freemasonry, in which he finally became a Grand Lodge Officer. He married Irene Tuson, whose family is described in the 'Tuson Area' of this site, and together they brought up two children. Leslie died in 1996, Irene in 2005. There are now four great grandchildren.
Thomas Dunckerley: This gentleman is perhaps the best-known bearer of the Dun(c)kerley name and I therefore investigated his links to the family. He turns out to have been an illegitimate son of George II of England but his surname derives from the husband of his mother and he is not therefore a Dunkerley at all! He was, nevertheless, most interesting. He had a distinguished career in the Royal Navy and became hugely influential in Freemasonry where he did much to develop Provincial administration.
1. Link to Rosemary Brown's website on the Dunkerley family. Rosemary has spent an immense amount of time researching the Parish Registers of Oldham, and other original sources and has compiled her information into a series of family relationships. Click on: http://dunkerley-brown.co.uk.