Catalogue Finding NumberWYC:1525
Office record is held atCalderdale, West Yorkshire Archive Service
Deeds 1407-1952: Bingley Parish 1564-1794, Calverley Parish 1475-1779. Keighley Parish 1568-1716. Halifax Parish 1407-1952 (including Norland township 1686-1865, Southowram township 1407-1888, Sowerby township 1607-1952 and other Yorkshire parishes 1563-1840. Wills and testamentary papers 1614-1949, marriage settlements 1680-1829, apprenticeship indentures 1697-1820 and other legal papers 1825-1851.
Property records 1615-1973 including Sowerby and Norland estates, rentals and accounts 1878-1950, water rights 1615-1972, sale particulars 1844-1893, catalogues and inventories 1853-1926, plans c1790-1951
Personal accounts 1742-1960
Wages books 1877-1942
Business records 1758-1951
Rawson family papers 1727-2005
Walker and Priestley family papers 1734-1894
Photographs 1836-c1990
Genealogical records 1777-1998
Local affairs 1625-1980 incuding Sowerby St Peter's 1625-1976 and Sowerby Division Conservative Association 1885-1953
Recipes, etc c1880-1900
Cartoons and drawings 1759-1945
Extent2.5/113 boxes
AdminHistoryThe 16th and 17th century origins of the Rawson Family of Sowerby are to be found in Airedale, and deeds and genealogical material in this collection clearly show their earlier links with the Parishes of Keighley, Bingley and Calverley Parishes, most notably with Ingrow, Beckfoot and Bolton, near Bradford. Although little is known, certain members of the family came to reside in the Halifax district in the early eighteenth century, and the re-marriage (c.1722) of Katharine Rawson (nee Lister), widow of John Rawson (1677-1719) of Bolton, Bradford, to John Crossley of Kershaw House, Luddenden, brought her into Calderdale for some years. Whilst two of her sons lived elsewhere, it was the third and youngest, Christopher Rawson (1712-1780), who settled in Halifax Parish and definitively established the family there. He was described as a mercer of Halifax in 1734 and appears in the Southowram overseers' books in 1740 (a contemporary deed describing him as 'woollen draper and cloth buyer'), two years before he purchased the extensive Stoney Royd Estate in that township, where he had been living as a tenant. The brick mansion was erected by him around 1764 and became the family seat of the senior line for virtually a century. From Christopher descended the Rawsons of Halifax, including the depositors of this collection, a more junior branch who moved to Mill House and subsequently other properties in Sowerby (including Haugh End). Papers are included which relate to the founder Christopher and earlier family properties in Southowram, including Rawson Lordship of the Manor of Southowram.

Christopher married a cousin, Grace Rawson of Beckfoot, Cottingley, in 1743 at Adel. From the union sprang a number of children, the most important being John Rawson (1744-1815), the inheritor of Stoney Royd and William Rawson (1750-1828) of Mill House, near Triangle (Sowerby Township), later of Skircoat. The two, as large landowners and merchants, were involved in various businesses, principally textiles and banking, often in partnership with other individuals (notably the Saltmarshes with whom there were close family links through marriage). From 1807 their banking and commercial premises were situated in the Royds Family mansion, later known as Somerset House, in George Street, Halifax. The bank was known as the Halifax Commercial Bank, in 1831 became the Halifax and Huddersfield Union Bank, and in 1919 (after several more amalgamations and changes of name) joined Lloyds Bank. As far as their involvement in textiles is concerned, Bailey's Northern Directory of 1781 lists Christopher Rawson and Sons, also Jeremiah and William Rawson, as merchants and manufacturers. Subsequently certain Rawsons conducted their businesses separately at Mill House, Thorpe, Bullace Trees, Brockwell (all in Sowerby), and at Savile Green and other mills in Halifax (including, from 1870, Old Lane Mill erected by James Akroyd in 1828). A directory of 1845 lists W H Rawson and Company, woollen manufacturers and merchants of Mill House, and John Rawson, cloth manufacturer and merchant of Brockwell.

It comes as no surprise that the prominent Rawson Family formed marriage alliances with other distinguished local families through its daughters as well as its sons. At an early stage links were established with (amongst others) the Saltmarshes of Saltmarshe, the Stansfelds of Field House, the Waterhouses of Well Head, the Empsons of Knaresborough, and the Prestons of Green Royd, Skircoat. All these families appear in the collection but a particularly large number of documents originate with the Priestleys of White Windows with whom the Rawsons of Sowerby married three times, in two consecutive generations. Through them they also became related to the influential Walker and Edwards Families. There were also connections to the latter family through the Waterhouses. Grace Elizabeth Rawson (1780-1849), daughter of John of Stoney Royd, married John Waterhouse of Well Head in 1805. Two daughters and a son (Samuel) issuing from this union married two sons and a daughter of John Lees Edwards of Pye Nest, while a third daughter married Charles Musgrave, Vicar of Halifax 1827-1875. Samuel Waterhouse's daughter Catherine Grace Doherty-Waterhouse (d.1916), was the last of the Waterhouses of Well Head, and receives mention in a few documents in this collection. Certain other documents included have a Waterhouse provenance.

From 1785 William Rawson (1750-1828) and brothers Jeremiah (1748-1787) and Samuel (1755-1812) were involved in the building of a mill near Triangle (Sowerby Township), originally called Bully or Bullace Trees Mill (from the name of a nearby property next to the turnpike, leased from the Stansfelds). William lived for a time in London (c1772-1787) and married twice, firstly to Mary Dunn in 1785 (whose origins in Howden explain some of the documents in the collection) and secondly, in 1791, to Elizabeth Threlkeld, a relative of William Wordsworth who had become an adopted aunt of the poet's sister Dorothy. Between 1790 and 1796, possibly to coincide with William's second marriage, a new residence was built for him next to the Bully Trees Mill, named Mill House, and thereafter the mill itself came to be known as Mill House Mill. William had no issue by either of his wives and moved from Mill House to Savile Green, Halifax in 1806, having become more involved in the affairs of the banking house run at that time as Rawson, Rhodes and Briggs.

William's brother John Rawson (1744-1815) married Nelly Stansfeld of Hope Hall, Halifax, in 1777. After her father David Stansfeld's death Hope Hall was sold out of her family but she bought it back for her eldest son Christopher Rawson (1777-1849) when he returned to England after years of travel and adventure abroad. He joined his father John, uncle William and other family members in the new bank that in 1811 was styled John, William and Christopher Rawson and Company. From 1836 to 1843 he was to act as Chairman of its successor, the Halifax and Huddersfield Union Bank. Hope Hall remained his home for forty-two years and while living there Christopher Rawson became one of Halifax's foremost citizens. He married Mary Ann Brooks in 1807 but they had no offspring. He was one of the founders of the Halifax Literary and Philosophical Society, of which he became the first President in 1830. A museum was subsequently established in Harrison Road with items from his own collection acquired in many parts of the world.

All of Christopher's five brothers- Stansfeld, William Henry, John, Jeremiah and Thomas Samuel - did produce offspring, but branches founded by four of them (William Henry being the exception) eventually moved away from Halifax Parish. Stansfeld's (1778-1856) family was associated locally with the ancestral Stoney Royd, Gledholt Hall (Huddersfield), Savile Green, and more distantly with Wasdale Hall, Cumberland, properties in Radnorshire, and Australia. John Rawson (1783-1852) lived at Ash Grove in Southowram but his offspring, like son Edward of Clevedon, Somerset (who had lived for a period at the Breck Sowerby), seem eventually to have left Calderdale. Jeremiah (1787-1839) lived at the Shay and Greenroyd, Skircoat. At the time of the 1881 census Rawsons of his line were registered at Ashfield Villas, Skircoat and at Rawdon near Leeds. Thomas Samuel (1792-1860) was in Exeter in 1851 and died in Bath. The families of his two sons Christopher and Samuel were associated with Liverpool, London and with places much further afield, through the distinguished career of Christopher's son Admiral Sir Harry Holdsworth Rawson (1843-1910), Governor of New South Wales 1902-1909. Documents and photos relating to members of these branches will be found in the collection, but it is the family of the remaining brother William Henry Rawson I (1781-1865) that features most prominently.

After his 1806 marriage to Mary Priestley, daughter of John Priestley (1754-1801) of Thorpe near Triangle and his wife Elizabeth (1750-1829, nee Walker), William Henry Rawson moved to Mill House, Sowerby, taking it over from his uncle William. Through this marriage and the marriage of two sons issuing from the union (John and Frederick Edward Rawson) to two Priestley first cousins, a strong link with the Priestleys of White Windows, Sowerby and with the Walkers of Crow Nest in Lightcliffe was forged. This fact is reflected in the many Priestley and Walker documents in the collection which the Sowerby Rawsons inherited as heirs to several Walker/Priestley estates (German House in Hipperholme-cum-Brighouse, High Bentley in Shelf, Applehouse in Warley, Kebroyd in Soyland and several Southowram properties, to name a few).

William Henry I (1781-1865) and family lived at Mill House through the 1841 and 1851 censuses, though by 1861 he was resident at (New) Haugh End, being the first Rawson to live at the Georgian mansion inherited from the Priestley Family. He was Chairman of the Halifax and Huddersfield Union Bank from 1856 to 1864. Mill House remained the home of his eldest son William Henry II (1812-1892) and the latter's daughter Constance Ellen (1850-1925) through later periods (after her marriage she was granted the name MacDougall-Rawson). William Henry I's second son John took Brockwell near Triangle (purchased by William Henry I in 1832) as his home. During his long period of occupancy he purchased several properties in the Sowerby district (including White Windows, former seat of the Priestleys, in 1878). As he had no surviving children, the properties came to the children of his brother Frederick Edward and many of the deeds (relating to purchases in the period 1856-1898) are to be found in this collection. John also rebuilt the Almshouses in Sowerby, founded in 1728 by Elkanah Horton of Thornton, as a memorial to his only child Gertrude Elizabeth (1843-1859). William Henry I's third son Arthur was a clergyman of Bromley in Kent but spent time at Fallbarrow, a mansion on the banks of Lake Windermere in Westmoreland, apparently built for him by his brother John. The fourth and final son Frederick Edward (1821-1879) lived at Thorpe, Triangle, after his marriage to Harriet Susanna Priestley (1823-1901) in 1843. His widow and eldest son were still resident there in 1891 and 1901. The former St John's Church, Thorpe, owed its foundation to Frederick although he did not live to see the laying of the foundation stone in 1880. Frederick Edward's second son John Selwyn Rawson (1858-1925) married Annie Constance Dwyer of Ireland in 1888. They were living at White Windows, Sowerby in 1891 but by 1899 had moved to (New) Haugh End. The mansion had been built by John Lea (1729-1810) in the 1760s while residing at the Old Haugh End house. By his will Lea bequeathed it to his son-in-law Joseph Priestley (1750-1819) of White Windows, in trust for his daughter Lydia Priestley (nee Lea).

In 1900, following the death of John Rawson of Brockwell, W H Rawson and Company became associated with the Edwards' (of Pye Nest) family firm at Canal Mills, Sowerby Bridge. They were registered as Edwards and Rawson Limited, later directors being Frederick Philip Selwyn Rawson (1891-1947) of Brockwell and his sister's husband W A C Lloyd. The firm moved in 1930 to Hopton Mills, Mirfield. Whilst no Edwards remained involved, the Rawsons' firm had been owned or directed through its 200 years existence by its founder or his descendants.

What remains of the Rawson estate (including Haugh End) is still in Rawson hands in the person of Ann Fenella Rawson (1921- ), granddaughter of John Selwyn and daughter of Frederick Philip Selwyn and Sarah Katharine nee Mitchell (1891-1960). Fenella Rawson married Wilfred ('Wolf') Watkins of Argentina in 1944 and they have a son John Frederick Llewellyn Watkins (1951- ), the heir to the estate, who lives in Hertfordshire and through whom the collection was deposited with West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale. No Rawsons in the male line from Christopher (1712-1780) apparently remain in Calderdale.

See also CV; FW:54; FW:64; FW:96; FW:100; FW:133; FW:155; FW:209; FW:222; HAS:418-426; HAS:886-893 (433); MAC:39; MISC:305; MISC:671; MISC:785; MISC:888; OC; SH:6/LD/49; WYC:1353 and many other items

Also see 'The Rawson Family' by A Porritt (Transactions of the Halifax Antiquarian Society [THAS] 1966 p.27), 'Mrs William Rawson and her Diary' by J Wilson (THAS 1958 p.29), 'Stoney Royd' by J Lister (THAS 1909 p.125), 'William Henry Rawson' by J Wild (THAS 1977 p.67)
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