A few days ago I treated myself to a month’s subscription to Ancestry.com and their world records. Intent trying to unravel my own family mystery, I found myself pleasantly surprised to get lost in my husband’s family tree, which reaches quite far back into Yorkshire, England.

Seems fitting that a girl named Heather would fall into a family line that spent many a generation rambling in the heath πŸ˜‰
I’ve always loved history– especially the more anthropological side of it (customs, folk lore, language, traditions, dress, that’s all more interesting to me than war and land-grabbing) so when I start digging into census records and finding little nuggets of long-lost knowledge, it makes my little heart sing in the most nerdy of history loving ways.
While my family tree is complicated by centuries of living in the most rural of the American landscapes (it seems I come from a long line of mountain folk who didn’t take kindly to census takers) Will’s family were neatly accounted for in decades of meticulous English record. I was able to trace his line back to 1520 before I lost the trail. That’s the reign of Henry VIII!
Now, I know I have a good many visitors from Great Britain on the blog, even if some of you are rather quiet πŸ™‚ I hope you’ll indulge me this once however, and perhaps come out of the woodwork to share what you know about where you live!
The earliest Sleightholm(e) I found was from Oswaldkirk, Yorkshire. Then for several generations they lived somewhere called Great Edstone, Yorkshire, before ambling down the road to farm in Scalby, Yorkshire and Kirbymoorside, Yorkshire. In the mid-1800s it seems they left the countryside of rural Yorkshire to work in the mines in Oldham, Lancashire. That’s where they migrated from.
Through bits of census reports, immigration papers, and naturalization records, I’ve been able to piece together that my husband’s great-grandfather left England for Canada as a young man, and soon his parents, siblings, and his sweetheart, a girl named Amy, soon joined him. Amy was a mill worker’s daughter born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. I found her working as a servant as young as 15 years old in a small household through records, and she later moved to a slightly larger household in Oldham. The change in the lives of this couple is pretty impressive. Within a decade they went from a miner and a housemaid in England to a family of five in Pennsylvania, with Mr. Sleightholm rising to foreman at an electrical company. I’d say they did pretty well for themselves!
So, if by chance these places I named sound familiar to you…I’d love to hear about them. From what I’ve gathered, Oldham seems to have been a fairly industrial town in the 1800s, filled with mining and mills (cue scenes from “North and South”) I’m curious about these other tiny little towns– Kirbymoorside (which was mentioned on Downton Abbey last week, did you catch it? Whodathought!), Scalby and Great Edstone. Perhaps one day we modern Sleightholms (we’ve dropped the last ‘e’ now) will make our way back over the ocean and see this place where we lived for so many centuries once again. It sounds like a grand adventure!
Til then, I feel a great urge to paint, especially when I see beautiful images of the moors like the photo shown above. What a beautiful place. And how happy I am to have followed our family trail there.

11 thoughts on “Yorkshire

  1. Love your new Banner and this photo is so beautiful! Researching family history is fascinating to me, although we haven't been able to go back that far!Can't wait to see new paintings from your talented hand!


  2. WOW! This is MY part of Yorkshire, Scalby and Kirbymoorside is only 10 miles from my parent's house! I ADORE your new header too….VERY lovely! If you want photos next time I am back, I will take some for you!Karen


  3. Aha! My father's family are from Oldham!! My paternal grandfather was one of the last cotton mill foremen there. It's much changed now – it was cleaned up considerably in the 80s and the mills mostly closed – but it used to be a pretty grim industrial town. Lots of little back-to-back two-up-two-down houses, most of which were knocked down years ago. It will have been very 'North and South' in the 1800s. Quite a large town too, even then, and these days it has a high Asian immigrant population.And – and honestly a shiver went up my spine as I read your post! – I spent my early childhood in Cheltenham and my younger sister was actually born there! It's a beautiful spa town with lots of wonderful Georgian architecture … very different to Oldham. 15 by the way was not young to go 'into service', 14 was the norm.Ask away if there's more you want to know πŸ˜€


  4. up on the woodland where i often visit grows violet heather. i do think it is such a magical forest plant. last summer i picked some for blend with black tea. it is exciting to search about families, you can never know what you may find.


  5. I've been doing our family trees for about 10 years now. I have my husband's family back to the 1600's originally from the border between Scotland and England known as the Debatable Land. My FIL always said there was someone hung for stealing sheep…he was right!!! I have found lots of skeletons in the closet as they say;)


  6. How fun! I'm lucky that I haven't had to do much family research because everyone else has done it for me. The Hairstons were the lairds of some little place called Craigs just north of the English/Scottish border. I'm descended from younger sons, obviously! We think the Hairstons arrived in England with the Norman invasion and then went to Scotland. My great-grandmother's ancestors were Norman invaders, as well. That's about all I know until they get to America, though!How awesome about Kirbymoorside. I did catch it on Downton Abbey and thought, \”that's such a cute name–I'd like to visit!\”


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