Harrop family

George Harrop was baptised at Holy Trinity, Ossett on 26th December 1813. He was the youngest of ten children born to Joseph and Mary Harrop (nee Butterfield). William, John, Rachel, Bridget, Harriet, Mary, Thomas, Jane, Joshua & George.

He made his fortune in the local trade of woollen manufacturing, having started out in the 1850s in a Horbury Bridge mill, later occupied by the Pickards. Then he built Albion Mills, now the site of the old Slazengers factory. According to the 1871 census, he was, at that time, employing 190 hands. By the 1881 census he was employing 259 hands. George also played a big part in getting the Great Northern Railway to build its line to Ossett. In 1884 he also purchased the properties known as 'The Rocks' or 'Rock Cottages', off Sowood bend.

George married twice. His first wife was Harriet Lee, whom he married at Dewsbury on 23rd August 1834. His second wife was Mary Castle, whom he married on 22nd June 1843 at Wakefield Cathedral.

He had ten children; William 1836, John 1839, Harriet 1841, with his first wife Harriet, who tragically died giving birth to a daughter, also Harriet. He went on to have; Arthur 1848, Bridget 1850, Philip 1853, Jane 1855, Joshua 1859, Ann 1862 and Mary 1864 with his second wife Mary.

In the 1871 census, George and Mary were living at Mansion House on Dale Street, Ossett. A property with 18 acres of land. By 1881 they had moved to newly built Rock House, on the border of Ossett and Horbury via a spell at Green House in Green Park, Ossett.

Green House, The Green, Ossett. Photo courtesy of Nev Ashby.

Rock Cottages, on the Ossett - Horbury border at Sowood.

George had interests outside manufacturing too, having been a founding director of the Ossett Gas Company in 1855, he was its vice-chairman when he died. At one time he had also been chairman of Leeds White Cloth Hall, a trustee of Horbury Common Lands Trust, a member of Horbury Local Board and a senior trustee of the Wesleyan Chapel, Wesley Street, Ossett.

George Harrop died at Rock House on the 1st July 1892. His executors were his sons Arthur and Joshua with son in law Joshua Wilson. His estate was worth £121,725 13s 6d (over £13 million in today's terms!) He was buried in the cemetery at St John's Church, South Ossett. Mary, his widow joined him when she died on 5th June 1904. After Mary died, Rock House was occupied by Edwin and Eliza Ann Mitchell, with their daughter Annie Evelyn. Edwin died there in 1908. After Eliza Ann died in 1940, Annie Evelyn, a spinster, lived at Rock House until she died on 25th August 1963. She also owned Mitchell's Row off Dale Street, Ossett. 

Rock House. Photo courtesy of Brendan Hughes.

Rock House with a family seated outside - could they be the Harrops or Mitchells?

The Ossett & Horbury Gas Company was sold to Ossett Corporation in 1900. An agreement to sell gas to Horbury Urban District Council was part of the deal. The gasworks were situated on Healey Lane and Ossett Corporation continued to operate the works until nationalisation in 1949, when it vested in the Wakefield Group of the North Eastern Gas Board.

The Leeds White Cloth Hall was actually a series of four different buildings. White cloth refers to it being undyed. The first building was opened on Kirkgate in 1711 as a response to a Cloth Hall having been built in Wakefield in 1710. This was a covered hall where cloth merchants did business. The second Hall was built in 1756 in Holbeck, to replace the first. This Hall only lasted 20 years before the third Hall was opened in 1775 in The Calls. However, its life was cut short when the Hall was sliced in two by the new North Eastern Railway viaduct in 1865. This necessitated building a fourth Hall, financed by the North Eastern Railway Company, situated on King Street. It was opened in 1868 but never reached its potential due to the decline of the cloth industry. It closed in 1895. The site is occupied today by the Hotel Metropole.

The Common Lands Trust began in 1653 when Sir Gervase Clifton, Lord of the Manor of Wakefield, due to disputes over the rights in the common fields, decided with the aid of certain Horbury residents, that certain Common Lands should be used for the benefit of all Horbury residents. In theory, Common Lands were the property of the Lord of the Manor.

Horbury Local Board was set up in 1863, a fore runner to the Urban District Council, to deal with specific tasks like sanitation and drainage. In actual fact it was used more as a sounding board for local grumbles.

The very grand Wesleyan Chapel, Wesley Street, Ossett was built between 1866-8. It was said to be the third largest in the country and had a classical façade. It was to last just under a century. It was demolished in 1961 and a modern Methodist Chapel built in its place.

George Harrop's grave, St John's Church, South Ossett.

Arthur Harrop's grave, St John's Church, South Ossett.

Joshua Harrop's grave, Horbury Cemetery.

So what became of all George Harrop's children?

William Harrop (1836 - 1903) married Emma Speight, daughter of Ossett manufacturer John Speight at Dewsbury Parish church on 1st December 1859. They had children; Harriet Hannah 1860, George 1862 and Emma 1868. By 1901 William, a widower, had moved to Lindley, Huddersfield, where he died on the 17th June 1903. His executors were his daughter Emma and Hubert Harrop. His estate was worth £4681 11s 9d (over half a million today).

John Harrop (1839 - 1910) married Mary Westerman, daughter of Ossett manufacturer John Westerman, on the 22nd December 1864, at Dewsbury Parish Church. They had children: Sarah 1866, Harriet 1867, Jane Annie 1868, Alice Mary 1871, Herbert 1872, George 1873 and Ada 1875. They also had a daughter, Gertrude who died aged 8 months. The 1881- 1901 censuses show John and his family living at Green House, which his father had previously lived in. John Harrop died on the 28th April 1910. His estate was worth £104557 9s 9d (over £11 million today). 

Harriet Harrop (1841 - 1903) married Ossett clothier Arthur Wilson in Dewsbury in 1869. The 1881 census finds them living on Dale Street. They have two children, George Frederick 8 and Emily 4. In 1904, when Emily married Alfred Fearnside of Northfield House, Intake Lane, Ossett, the Wilsons were living at Elder Villa, Dale Street, where Harriet's brother Arthur died in 1897. Harriet died on the 8th March 1903 and is buried in St. John's Church, South Ossett. Arthur Wilson died on the 31st December 1922 at 7, Prospect Road, Ossett and was buried with his wife at St. John's Church.

Arthur Harrop (1848 - 1897) married Sarah Westerman, daughter of Ossett manufacturer John Westerman and sister of Mary Westerman, his sister-in-law, on the 18th August 1870 at Holy Trinity, Ossett. In the 1881 census Arthur and Sarah are living on Dale Street and have two daughters, Annie 4 and Edith 8 months. Arthur died on 30th March 1897, his address was Elder Villa, Dale Street and he was buried at St John's Church, South Ossett. Probate was granted to his older brother William in the sum of £84,080 15s 2d (approx. £9 million today). Sarah died on 26th December 1915. Her address in the 1911 census was Holmfield, West Wells, Ossett and her household comprised of Sarah, a cook, a housemaid and a trained nurse.

Bridget Harrop (1850 - 1906) married cloth maker Joshua Wilson, at St Peter's Church. Horbury, on the 13th December 1877. The 1881 census shows them living on Cardigan Road, Headingley, Leeds. They have two sons: Joshua Harrop 1 and George A 1 month. Ten years later, the family has expanded to include four more sons: Stanley Ewart Ashley 10, Clifford 7, Gerald 6 and Alan 1. They have moved to Oakley House, Gledhow Wood Road, Gledhow. Leeds. Joshua died on the 9th June 1898 at Scarborough. His estate was worth £91,593 13s 2d (over £10 million today). He was buried at Lawnswood Cemetery, Leeds. Bridget died on the 21st December 1906 at 'The Imperial Hotel', Bournemouth. She was buried at Lawnswood with Joshua.

The grave of Joshua Wilson, his wife Bridget, nee Harrop and their family at Lawnswood Cemetery, Leeds. Photos courtesy of Graeme Bickerdike.

Philip Harrop (1853 - 1926) married Rebecca Speight, daughter of Ossett Mill owner John Speight, on the 3rd August 1875, at Holy Trinity, Ossett. The 1891 census shows them living at Upper Bank House, The Green, Horsforth. They had four children: Harold 14, Lilian 10, John 7 & Arthur 3. By 1901 they have moved to 5 Oakroyd Villas, Bradford. Philip died on the 5th November 1926 in Burley in Wharfedale. His estate was worth £74,083 3s 6d (over £4 million today). Rebecca died on the 3rd February 1930.

Jane Harrop (1855 - 1922) married Normanton draper, Earnshaw Fish on the 26th March 1879 at St Peter's Church, Horbury. The first daughter not to marry a cloth manufacturer. The 1881 census shows them living on High Street, Normanton. Earnshaw Fish is a draper and outfitter, I assume they live over/behind the shop. The household comprises: Earnshaw 32, Jane 25, their son Rowland Harrop 1, John Moat 23, assistant draper, four apprentice drapers; Frederick Birdsall 18, John William Armstrong 19, Rufus Arthur Stringer 14 and Branson Bowles 13. They also have a domestic servant, Margaret Williams 27. It must have been quite a large business. In 1883 they had a second son, Wilfred. By the 1901 census Earnshaw and Jane have retired to Snaith near Goole with son George Harrop, who is only 6. In the 1911 census they still live in Snaith but Earnshaw describes himself as a grazier (someone who fattens cattle/sheep for market). Rowland Harrop and George Harrop are still single and living at home. Jane died on the 24th September 1922. Earnshaw died on the 4th June 1929, whilst at Southport. 

Joshua Harrop (1859-1923) was perhaps the most interesting sibling as far as Horbury goes, he married Clara Felicia Bolton, daughter of Yeadon manufacturer Edward Bolton, on the 17th January 1884 at Yeadon Parish Church. The 1891 census shows the couple living at Rayner Yard, Horbury. They have no children, but do have a housemaid and cook. They soon moved to Cliffe House, which was at the top of Quarry Hill, Horbury. Joshua and Clara were in for a rocky marriage. In 1899 Clara petitioned for divorce on the grounds of Joshua’s physical cruelty and adultery with Leeds woman Alice Rose. She alleged Joshua had two children with Alice Rose in 1895 and 1897. Clara also claimed he had told her he was going to bring a Miss Tyerman to live with them as his mistress and that she contracted a venereal disease from him! Joshua countered these claims with his own that Clara had committed adultery with Leeds man Robert Reid King. Their divorce became final on the 31st July 1899.

Clara, herself a lady of means was awarded alimony of £800 per annum. The 1901 census shows Joshua, single and living alone at Cliffe House, Horbury. Joshua died on 9th March 1923, aged 64, at Cliffe House and was buried at Horbury Cemetery. His executors were his brother Philip and John Taylor, book keeper. His estate was worth £252,500 13s 5d (over £13 million today). Although I am unable to verify whether or not Joshua fathered any children with Alice Rose, there is an Alice Rose 28, single, in the 1901 census, boarding at 1 Glover Place, Leeds. There is also a Theodore Rose 3 at the same address. Was this Joshua's child born in 1897? Well according to the England & Wales Civil Registration Birth Index there was a Theodore Joshua Rose born in Leeds in the first quarter of 1897. Make up your own mind.

As well as being a very wealthy manufacturer, Joshua, a Liberal, was also a county councillor and chairman of Horbury Local board and then Urban District Council on many occasions, spread over 37 years. In 1902, the foundation stone was laid by him for the new Town Hall in Horbury. Following the ceremony Joshua threw a lavish garden party at his home, Cliffe House. He was also chairman of the Education Sub-Committee and officially opened Horbury New Council School (Horbury Primary School) on 11th June 1913.

The Grade II listed grave marker for Sam Wilson and his wife Ann (nee Harrop) at Lawnswood Cemetery, Leeds. Photos courtesy of Graeme Bickerdike.

Ann Harrop (1862 -1931) married Sam Wilson, son of Leeds manufacturer Joshua Wilson (and brother of Joshua who married her sister Bridget Harrop), on the 8th March 1882, at St Peter's Church, Horbury. The 1891 census finds the couple living at Rutland Lodge, Potternewton, Leeds. They don't have any children but they do have a cook and two maids. Sam is a worsted coatings manufacturer. The 1911 census confirms that Sam and Ann never had children but did maintain three servants! Their address is still Rutland Lodge, which is a large property of 12 rooms. Sam died on the 13th December 1913. His executors were Ann, Gladstone Wilson, Joshua Harrop Wilson, Stanley Ashley Wilson (his nephews) and Francis John Fallowfield Curtis (solicitor). His estate was worth £191,462 3s 11d (over £20 million today). Ann died in 1931 and they are both buried at Lawnswood Cemetery, Leeds.


1. "Some Horbury Yesterdays" by R D Woodhall

2. Monetary conversations - Historic Inflation Calculator


Helen Bickerdike  June 2017