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North Cheshire Family Historian

Large Goldmine Found In Cheshire!

Many family history researchers have been keeping their fingers crossed for a long time in the hope that they will finally come across that veritable goldmine of family history which dots all the i's and crosses all the t's in their seemingly everlasting search for that elusive ancestor or, even better, that whole family stretching back into the middle ages and beyond. The message from one who has recently discovered such a goldmine is ''Don't give up hope - it may be out there somewhere!''

My own particular stroke of luck started off by an innocuous Hooley reference in the index to the 1881 edition of a magazine called 'Notes and Queries'. This is a very old-established genealogical magazine and is still published. Because HOOLEY is a variant of HULLEY in the Macclesfield area of Cheshire, I thought it might be worth following up.

I checked the magazine (published in book form for each year) at the Guildhall Library in London and found that the Hooley reference was contained in a letter from none other than JP Earwaker, FSA the famous Cheshire historian who wrote The History of East Cheshire in 1880. Earwaker wrote to enquire whether any reader knew of a connection between James Hooley, deputy lieutenant of Nottinghamshire and that of the Hooley family of Macclesfield, Dukinfield (from where my own particular line derives) and Manchester. He asked for replies to be sent direct to his home address at Abergele, North Wales.

I postulated that if I could track down these replies - if any - then other information relating to the Hulleys of Macclesfield, Dukinfield and Manchester may also turn up. Little did I realise at the time what a goldmine was about to be discovered! I contacted Alan Hulley of Leigh, Lancashire a fellow researcher who kindly made enquiries at Cheshire Record Office. No luck there, but he was advised to try the Chester City Record Office.

The City Record Office has the Earwaker papers all indexed by surname amongst their archives and EUREKA! they contain over 100 papers relating to the Hulleys and Hooleys of Macclesfield. The most important find is a pedigree chart starting in 1488 and stretching up to 1881, showing the various generations of The One House in Rainow as well as off-shoots into Macclesfield Town and Park. Another bonus is all the Hulley/Hooley entries from St Michael's church registers from its inception in 1573 extracted in 1881 by Earwaker (or an assistant). These include entries now destroyed or lost since that time. The papers also include copies of all the entries from The One House family bible starting with an entry in 1730 and going up to 1880. This is most probably the same family bible given to Jonathan Hulley in his grandfather John's will of 1675. These entries include such details as the times of births and the causes of deaths. The papers also contain in the form of a will dated 1500 showing previously unknown family members, and numerous documents relating to land and property purchases, leases, marriage settlements and wills. Finally, Earwaker wrote a general report on the Hulley pedigree and sent it Holland Hulley at The One House. This is included in the papers and supports the petition for a grant of Arms made by Holland Hulley and accepted by the College of Arms in 1881.

This discovery has aroused considerable excitement in the Hulley households of Hemel Hempstead and Leigh! Not only has it supplied the answers to several genealogical riddles, for example, the link between the four Hulley/Hooley mayors of Macclesfield in the 18th century and The One House family, and the marriage of first cousins, but it has also corrected several errors in the family trees which we had previously drawn up. More importantly, the papers have helped to take the pedigree back at least one more generation to that shown on Earwaker's pedigree of the Hulley family.

A lease dated 1490 shows that John Hulley was granted The One House by Ralph Davenport of Calveley for 45 years and the property had a value of 22s.11d. This value also occurs in an entry in the Halmote Court roll dated 1474 which I discovered at the Public Record Office in which John Hulley was granted all those lands which formerly belonged to Hugome Hulley, his father. Although the Halmote Court entry does not name the property involved, it is almost certain to be The One House in view of the same annual value quoted. Hugome was living in 1441 and so by means of the newly-discovered 'goldmine' I am able to take the family tree back a further 47 years.

After finding all this new information, do I have any regrets? Yes - I still haven't discovered the link between the Hulley family of Macclesfield and my own line in Dukinfield which currently ends in 1650 and contains several common first names to those of the Macclesfield families. Also, both Alan and I have spent hours and hours - as well as pounds and pounds! - on family history over the past 15 years, only to find many of the answers hidden in the City Record Office at Chester all the time. Nevertheless, it was fun doing the research and we both have built up valuable experience during the 15 year period. Another consolation is that Alan has confirmed his own link with The One House family tree.

So if any reader is looking for his or her own goldmine, my advice is to try the Earwaker papers at the Chester City Record Office first - it may be there - next to mine!!

Ray Hulley
November 1994


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