Getting Started


This is an article about how I got started with family History

 Meaning & Origin of LINDLEY

 When I was boy I thought how unusual my surname was, not only was I the only boy in my class with that name, but I was the only boy in the whole school.

I asked my father about this and he said that although he was born in Conisbrough my Grandfather was not. He said he was born at either Hunslet or at Thornhill Lees. He was not sure.

When I became interested in family history I decided to find the meaning of the name and its origins.

I did this by looking at surname books such as the one by George Redmods-about 1973 – now out of print, it covered surnames in Yorkshire-mainly the West Riding.

The name originates from 2 places in Yorkshire called  Lindley, one at Huddersfield and one at Otley. The LIND part means Lime Tree & the LEY part means clearing- so Lime Tree Clearing.


 By this I mean, speak to relatives in your family – interview them!

You may say that you have never interviewed anyone in your life, but I say that you interview people every day – You may ask your husband or wife ‘how they have gone on at work’? or your children ‘how they have gone on at school’? You are asking them questions and you get answers -(sometimes)

 Some questions to ask your relatives:

 1        Where & on what date you were born?

2        Do you know if and where you were Christened/Baptised

3        When were you married & where?

4        Have you got your marriage certificate?

5        Where did you work?

6        What are/were your parent names? Include middle names & maiden names

7        Do you have any old Photographs of the family?

8        Do you have any old documents or certificates?

These are just a few of the questions you can ask, there are many more.

With this information in mind I asked my parents all about themselves & got lots of information, writing it all down for later use. So I now knew some detail about my parents and also about my Grandparents on both sides, but be warned, only try one side of the family at a time when new to FH.

As I have said my father mentioned that my grandfather (who  died in 1955) had come from either Hunslet, near. Leeds or Thornhill Lees, near Dewsbury and that he had been a Glass Blower at the KILNER glass works at Conisborough. 

At the local library I came across 3 very useful books, namely


A profile of the DENABY area from 1801 – 1871

By JE MacFarlane MA

Tracing your Family Tree

By jean Cole & Michael Armstrong

Family History & Local History

By David Hey

 The Book on COAL MINERS, GLASS & POTTERY was my first real clue to finding my ancestors. The book shows the 1871 census for Mexborough, Denaby & Conisborough & lists all those who worked in the Mines, Glassworks & Potteries.

I went straight to the GLASS workers & found 3 LINDLEY’S

WILLIAM, JOHN & JAMES. John & James were from HUNSLET & William was from ALLERTON BYWATER

Hunslet was the place my father had mentioned to me, so I knew I was on the right track, but Allerton Bywater had not been mentioned.


 The census started in 1801, but it was not until 1841 that the records contained any personal details & not until 1851 did it include place of birth, relationship to Head & marital status.

It is one hundred years before the census information is released so the 1901 census will not be available until 2001.

Armed with the information from the book I decided to look at the1881 census for Conisborough & Denaby.

I found the family living at the Glass House Houses at KILNER BROS  glass works, on the 1881 CD's the name was down as 'Findley' so watch out for misspellings. The Glass works is now part of the site of the EARTH centre at Conisborough.

The head of the family was my Great Grandmother MARY ANNE LINDLEY widow, & 2 children,  my Grandfather &  his sister LILLEY.

My grandfather WILLIAM HENRY was 16 and at the glass works as an apprentice glass blower, and LILLEY was down as a scholar, I checked her out and found out she went the local BOARD school at Mexborough some 4 miles away- these school records are at the Doncaster Archives.

My great grandfather must have died prior to the census, so, I decided to check in two places, the PARISH RECORDS of Conisborough St Peters at Doncaster archives & the SOUTH YORKSHIRE TIMES newspaper available at the local library. Both came up with the answer, my great grandfather who was WILLIAM LINDLEY- the 3rd person mentioned in the COAL MINERS, GLASS & POTTERS book, had died in JUNE 1880. I then checked the 1871 census and found the family living at the same address, but with William as the HEAD and from ALLERTON BYWATER (this was mentioned in the COAL MINERS, GLASS & POTTERS book) with quite a few children. Some of the children came from THORNHILL LEES near DEWSBURY. This was the clue that my father had given me, in fact that is where my grandfather was born in 1865.

I next checked the 1861 census for Thornhill Lees and again found the family there, some of the children were born as early as 1854,and my great Grandfather William Lindley was down as a Glass Worker at the KILNER glass works at Thornhill Lees.

The next step was to check the 1851 census at HUNSLET- LEEDS, these was available at the Leeds Central library.

The family were there, wife Mary Anne, Mother in law Anne Edwards- widow & 3 children, John, James & a William- a child by a former marriage.

This meant that William Lindley had been married before – but when? The child William was 10 and worked at the FLAX Mill in Hunslet.  I checked the marriages in the LEEDS area at the archives at Sheepscar and found that William my Gt Grandfather had married a JANE LISTER in 1846 at Leeds St Peter.  So Jane had died between that date & the 1851 (Census). Checking the burial register for Hunslet I found Jane had died in late 1849 of Cholera  (an epidemic in Leeds at this time) & that William had married Mary Anne Edwards in the March of 1850 & a few weeks later had given birth their first child, which meant that Mary Anne was pregnant before Jane had died!  The child William I found was baptised William Lister at Swillington – no father’s name mentioned on the Birth Certificate, the young William took the name of Lindley - we shall never know the true father. So up to now I had verified the book details which contained the 1871 census of Conisborough. 


 The IGI is an INDEX as you know & is a very good guide, but at times not all that reliable. I soon discovered that the name LINDLEY was very common, particularly in West Yorkshire

My Great Grandfather was from Allerton Bywater according to the census records, so I looked for a William Lindley at Allerton Bywater & could not find one.  I discovered by visiting Allerton Bywater ,that the church there was not built until about the 1850’s. The parish church people used was before that date was KIPPAX. Re checking the IGI and Registers ,I found a William Lindley Baptised at KIPPAX in January 1814, & the fathers name was JOHN & he was from Allerton Bywater & a farmer (this occupation was also on William’s marriage cert’) I found 2 more children Ann & Luke & then no more. Looking at the Burial Register again I discovered that John died at the age of 31 in 1819, this then gave me a clue to his birth date. John was married to a MARY according to the registers. When did John get married?  and where? I found the marriage at Leeds St Peter in 1813 & the marriage was a Licence marriage-  and that the Mary was a Mary Coldwell.

 Marriage Bonds & Allegations

Licence marriages can be most helpful, a copy of the marriage BOND (not the licence) may be available for Yorkshire at the Borthwick Institute at York. These documents often give valuable information, such as age, occupation and consent if a minor. Printed books of 'Marriage Bonds & Allegations are available from the Borthwick and currently start at 1715 and go through to 1837 in several volumes. These books are available for purchase. They would be an excellent research tool at the society's workshops as each volume has several hundred entry's.

 I then checked the Kippax Baptism records & found that John was Baptised in 1788 & that his father was a WILLIAM further checks in the register revealed several more children, but none after 1788. Looking further back I found no more Lindley’s at Kippax only in the early 1600’s. 

With the aid of the IGI & Registers I found the family again at CASTLEFORD & traced them back to the 1650’s. The Castleford  Registers do not exist before 1650, & the Bishops Transcripts are very spare before 1650..

Marriages & an important find

I discovered something strange about the marriage of William  Lindley of Allerton Bywater who was born in 1744 at Castleford and married in 1777 at Castleford to a Betty Hippon, it was a Licence marriage- The marriage bond said that Betty had the consent of her father MR George Hippon.  I thought the insertion of MR was a little strange & soon discovered that it was a Gentleman family & that it was refereed to as MR in many  documents of that periodThe Hippon's were from Featherstone, & looking in the Featherstone Registers I soon found the family going back to the start of the registers. This is where my interest in Heraldry comes in, I decided to look at the VISITATION books, these are books in printed form. They are copy's of the Heralds visits from the College of arms in London to various counties, starting in about 1524. The visitations took place at random intervals usually every 30 to 40 years. They stopped in the 1680's and they recorded the gentlemen families and families of higher society up to the level of Duke's I found the Hippons who were in fact an Heraldic family and their pedigree is well documented as far back as the 1400's.

 Land Tax Records

 At this point I decided to  fill in some background information & looked at land tax for the late 1700’s and discovered 3 returns in the 1780’s. These were available at the Wakefield Archives, I obtained copy's of these documents and they show what tax/rent my ancestors were paying in the late 1700's.  


 The next item I looked was WILLS, many original wills are kept at the BORTHWICK at York. Even the poorest of families often made a Will and just because your ancestors were say Agricultural labours it does not mean they did not make a Will.  I found a Will of William Lindley of Allerton Bywater for 1789 and it went into quite  some detail. Wills are very important.

Protestation Roles

 Protestation Roles are LISTS of signatures of people who signed allegiance to the King in this case Charles 1st in 1641/2. These are available if they exist for the area you are interested in from the House of Lords in London. The House of Lords as an archives department and they are normally very helpful. There is a cost to obtaining these, but again are an important research tool, they can locate your ancestor and let you know his allegiance.

Manorial Records

 Next I turned my attention to Manorial records (Court Rolls) & found that they did exist for Castleford They started in 1592 and ran until the 1800’s. These records if available are often kept at the archives and in this case are at the Leeds archives at Sheepscar.

They are in Latin until the early 1700’s, so I had to get someone to look at them on my behalf.  It was soon discovered that the Lindley name was cropping up several times, but I cannot at present connect the Lindley’s between 1592 & 1650, but they must be connected somehow because after 1650 they are related to me and there were so few people in a village set up in those days.

Quote from two Manorial records extracts :

"In May 1698 a 'Richard Lindley' was fined for making an affray & drew blood of one Charles Lapidge. Another incident by the same Richard was that he did ‘smite the Steward of the court & was fined 10 shillings". He must have been a hot-tempered man. This Richard was my descendent.

 Hidden Wills

 Sometimes Wills can be ‘Hidden’ in documents & one such Will I found in the manorial records of 1688. A Richard Lindley (deceased) had left property etc to his sons & wife & it is quite detailed, so look for these. It told me of a son John who was Richards heir this John was born before the start of the Castleford registers and was living in Leeds at he time of his fathers death. So do look for 'Hidden' Wills, they often occur in land registry deeds.


 There are many other records that are available, that I have not used, but the ones outlined here have brought me some success.  One of the key points in family history is that you must be persistent in your efforts.

In some of my research I came across a Heraldic Lindley family- but that is another story!

See Heraldry  page


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